Praying for a divorce law

By Herbert Vego

WITH or without a divorce law, there is a limit to a man’s or woman’s patience with a failed marriage, which would lead to the couple’s break-up.

But with a divorce law, both spouses could peacefully terminate a mismatched union and be free to remarry and live happily ever after

There is a legal ground for annulment that even the Christian churches recognize — inability of the respondent to perform sexual acts. But this ground presupposes that such inability has been void ab initio, which has to be proven beyond reasonable doubt.

That explains the need for a divorce law. It’s a matter of time, or so it seems, now that the House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading House Bill 9349, which would allow couples to terminate their marriage through absolute divorce.

The House narrowly passed the proposed Absolute Divorce Act with 131 affirmative votes, 109 negative votes, and 20 abstentions.

Barring unforeseen circumstances, the bill will be forwarded to the Senate for corresponding approval. Expect rough sailing, though.

You see, this is not a new attempt to legalize absolute divorce in the Philippines.  In 2018, during the 17th Congress, the House had approved a similar bill which, unfortunately, ended up junked by default in the Senate.

In fact, way back in the 1980s under the unicameral Batasang Pambansa, the late Assemblyman Arturo Pacificador of Antique filed the first Philippine divorce bill anchored on three grounds: adultery on the part of the wife and concubinage on the husband’s; attempt by the respondent against the life of the petitioner; and abandonment of the petitioner by the respondent without just cause for at least five consecutive years.

Criticized by the Catholic Church, of which he was a member, Pacificador stopped pushing through. He could have fought back: Who has given the Church the authority to chart the future of married couples?

Certainly not God, who has given us a rational mind. Any modern man who allows his brain to be manipulated by the clergy belongs to that era when disobedience to the Church was punishable by death.

But the Bible, which is the textbook of Christianity, allows divorce on the ground of unfaithfulness on the part of his or her spouse. Read it in Matthew 5:32: “A man who divorces his wife, unless she has been unfaithful, causes her to commit adultery. And anyone who marries a divorced woman also commits adultery.”

Since the Church condemns adultery, why tolerate an adulterous marriage?

It would be presumptuous for a hopeless union to continue because of a seemingly contradictory Bible verse: “What God has joined together, let no man separate” (Matthew 19:6).

Simply put, why blame God for a marriage ceremony performed by a priest, a pastor, a judge or a mayor?

I agree with the author of the new divorce bill, Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman, who said, “We need a divorce law because the present modes [annulment and legal separation] may not be sufficient to give complete relief to spouses in distress.”

In other words, a divorce law is not meant to break a marriage but to free couples from an already “broken marriage.”

Why play deaf and dumb to the clamor of battered wives for release from cruel husbands?

Without legal remedy, estranged couples are forced to either live with a new partner or indulge in “affairs”.

Worse, the couples who choose to remain under one roof due to religious bigotry are already condemned to hell on earth.

Data released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) show that 17.5% of women around the ages of 15 to 49 have experienced some form of physical, sexual, or emotional violence caused by partners; 15.2% suffered emotional abuse, 6.4% physically abused, and 2.3% sexually abused.

Among married respondents, nearly half or 48% blamed their current husbands for harming them.

-oOo-

RAIN PA MORE

THE rains in the past two days have not only cooled off the extreme heat index but have also helped Iloilo City’s power distributor, MORE Power, to clear the dust that has accumulated on the power lines. Dust could cause sparks leading to power interruptions.

The company’s response teams took advantage of yesterday’s scheduled brownouts to clean the post insulators and install or replace 69-kV poles within 11 hours.

So, rain pa more, but only moderately.

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