ILAGAN: “Philippines is primed and ready for a divorce law”

altManila – Currently, it is illegal to obtain a divorce in the Philippines. The Philippines remains one of the few countries that does not have a divorce law, along with the Vatican City and until recently, Malta.

An annulment or legal separation is recognized by the government, according to the Family Code, executive order number 209, signed July 26, 1987.

The House Bill No. 1799, also known as “An Act Introducing Divorce in the Philippines” was filed by Congresswomen Luzviminda Ilagan and Emerenciana De Jesus on July 27.  Both congresswomen are members of the political party group Gabriela Women’s Party, which focuses on advancing women’s rights in the Philippines.

Gabriela Representative Luzviminda Ilagan, co-author of House Bil 1799 of an Act Legalizing Divorce in the Philippines, says that the Philippines is primed and ready for a divorce law.
   
Ilagan says, the Philippines practiced divorce up until 1950 when it revised the Family Code. “The Philippines has always been ready.  If you look at our history, during the Spanish times we had divorce.”

Citing statistics, Ilagan says, some 800 cases for legal separation and annulment are filed before the Office of the Solicitor General each month, and over 43,650 applications were recorded from 2001 to 2007.
   
Women account for 61% of applicants, while 92% are Roman Catholic.
   
Ilagan says, divorce bill Filipino-style is different from the Las Vegas-style.  One condition would be for couples who have been legally separated for at least 5 years and there is no more hope for reconciliation.

She adds, other conditions for divorce include: couples who have been legally separated for at least 2 years at the time of filing for divorce, the presence of conditions for separation (sexual infidelity, abandonment, repeated violence, imprisonment), and psychological incapacity to perform the marital obligations.
   
“Let’s face the reality: there are good and bad marriages, so there is an option the good marriages will be strengthened [and] the bad marriages will be resolved”, Ilagan says.
   
Filipino couples have three options to end their marriages: declaration of nullity of marriage, which recognizes that the marriage was void from the very start, or in case of minors, happened without permission, annulment, or legal separation, wherein couples can separate but cannot marry again.  To that, Ilagan says, divorce offers a cure.

It would also offer a cheaper way out compared to an annulment, which could cost P100,000 to hire experts to declare the condition of psychological incapacity present.