Thursday, August 12, 2010

Divorce bill filed in Philippine Congress

PAGADIAN CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Aug. 12, 2010) - A women's party list group called GABRIELA has re-filed a bill seeking to legalize divorce in the Philippines.

It said the proposal would give married couples in irreparable marriages another legal remedy that they can resort to in addition to the country’s existing laws on legal separation and annulment.

House Bill 1799, also known as “An Act Introducing Divorce in the Philippines,” lists down five grounds for the filing of a petition for divorce.

According to the measure, couples who may apply for divorce include those who have been separated in fact for five years and those already legally separated for two years.

Grounds for legal separation may also apply when these same grounds have already caused the irreparable breakdown of the marriage. In addition, psychological incapacity, causing one's failure to comply with essential marital obligations and irreconcilable differences causing the irreparable breakdown of the marriage are also recognized as grounds for divorce.

Gabriela Representative Luz Ilagan stressed the need for a Divorce Law in the country. “We cannot ignore the fact that existing laws just do not suffice. Getting an annulment can be very expensive while legal separation will not give estranged couples the right to remarry,” she said in a statement.

The Divorce Bill’s explanatory note further elaborates on the need for a measure to address the commission of violence in marital relations. Official figures from the Philippine National Police in 2009 showed that 19 women fall victims to marital violence every day. Among the forms of violence and abuse against women committed in 209, wife battery ranked the highest at 6,783 or 72 percent.

“For women in abusive marital relationships, the need for a Divorce Law is real. It is high time that we give Filipino couples, especially the women, this option.” said another Gabriela Representative Emmi De Jesus.

The group first filed the Divorce Bill in the 13th Congress. The Gabriela solons expressed hope that with more women in the House of Representatives, now totaling 59, the pro-women measure will gain more support and spark interesting debates on the floor. (With a report from Becky de Asis)

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