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The Philippines is a country which does not recognize divorce law. As the
last nation apart from Vatican that disallows divorce, the government should
be able to decide on its stand about divorce law based on the needs of its
people. Our country is a democratic state which should allow us to freely
express our thoughts and feelings as a government by the people. One of the
problems we face is the issue about our current marriage system which is
very strict in preserving the sanctity of marriage. While also being dominated
by catholic people we are greatly influenced in our beliefs and even in the
legislation of our laws. In reality a lot of married women suffer from an abusive
husband making them in effect “battered wives” who are trapped into a never
ending broken marriage.

Our government having the inherent powers, must act accordingly to

provide remedy to problems in marriage involving the cases of battered wives.
The family as a basic social institution is the building block of the foundation of
a State which defines its progress. Imagine if one of its basic foundations is
already broken, the result is a weak and vulnerable government. Indeed we
should focus on how to manage, protect and strengthen this basic social
institution to make it an efficient vehicle to the progress of our country.

Majority of families in our country are economically underprivileged.

Knowing this, the State’s primary concern is to help this poor sector to
improve its quality of life. Poverty is the origin of most problems, crimes and
disorder. The root of one’s human values and morals came from his family. If
a child is living in a broken family, it cannot provide the needs to be able to
grow as an upright person. If his environment is abusive the tendency is that
the child will inherit and will adapt to this kind of living thus making it an
endless cycle. Remedies focusing on solving marriage problems among the
economically underprivileged couples and families must be given the
adequate amount of concern because they comprise the majority of the


The present laws relating to separation and termination of marriage are

inadequate to respond to the causes of failed marriages. Particularly, the most
affected are the married women in the poor economic sector of society.
Abusive marital relations results to the commission of violence and
oppression to the weaker party which is the women.

Humans are not perfect creatures. We are prone to commit mistakes

during our lifetime, one of which is failed marriage. Remedies must be
available anytime in order to cure marital disputes. In reality, we must accept
that the existing laws in the Philippines are not sufficient to solve these
problems. Annulment, declaration of nullity of marriage and legal separation
are the radical legal means available to solve marriage problems. However,
physical abuse is limited as valid ground or accepted reason in legal
separation and a ground for nullity under Article 36 of the Family Code in
cases of psychological incapacity of an abusive spouse.

The petitioner in legal separation, just like in annulment, is still required to

prove the allegations contained in the petition. More important is the
mandatory (6) six months "cooling off" period in legal separation cases. The
court is required to schedule the pre-trial conference not earlier than (6) six
months from the time the petition is filed. This period is meant to give spouses
an opportunity for reconciliation. In legal separation cases, valid grounds are
repeated physical violence or grossly abusive conduct directed against the
petitioner and physical violence or moral pressure to compel the petitioner to
change religious or political affiliations. These circumstances must exist in
order to file a petition. However, in divorce law, there will be practical and
efficient means for these battered women. In the proposed House Bill 1799,
the rule on prohibitive trial within 6 – month from the filing of a Petition For
Legal Separation shall not apply in cases of violence against women and
children as

defined under R.A. 9262 in which case Section 19 of the same law shall



SECTION 19. Legal Separation Cases. – In cases of legal separation,

where violence as specified in this Act is alleged, Article 58 of the Family
Code shall not apply. The court shall proceed on the main case and other
incidents of the case as soon as possible. The hearing on any application for
a protection order filed by the petitioner must be conducted within the
mandatory period specified in this Act.

In some instances, when the husband is not willing to reconcile with wife,
should the battered wife wait for 6 months? These situations put the battered
wives’ life in danger. What will the battered women do? What if the abusive
husband is very violent and abusive? Upon knowing that his wife wants a
legal separation, the abusive husband may become furious and may escalate
his anger towards his wife. It means danger to the life of the battered wife and
children. It would be possible that much greater risk would embrace the life of
the battered wife and her children if the abusive and repeated violence still
exist for the period of (6) six months.

What if the battered wife is economically underprivileged and has no

financial means to pursue an annulment? The battered women will become
trapped in the abusive relationship and possible end results or possibilities of
what human instinct will do if faced with the peril against her life. In some
situations, the battered wives do criminal offenses such as killing her
husband, commit other means of escape such as having a relationship with
other persons while some got eventually killed because of the repeated
physical violence by

the abusive husband. These circumstances are being considered in meting
out heavier punishment under the present justice system. These kinds of
circumstances are the things which the government should prevent. A
battered woman has been defined as a woman "who is repeatedly subjected
to any forceful physical or psychological behavior by a man in order to coerce
her to do something he wants to her to do without concern for her rights.
Battered women include wives or women in any form of intimate relationship
with men. Furthermore, in order to be classified as a battered woman, the
couple must go through the battering cycle at least twice. Any woman may
find herself in an abusive relationship with a man once. If it occurs a second
time, and she remains in the situation, she is classified as a battered woman.

Battered women exhibit common personality traits, such as low self-

esteem, traditional beliefs about the home, the family and the family sex role;
emotional dependence upon the dominant male; the tendency to accept
responsibility for the batterers’ actions; and false hopes that the relationship
will improve. More
graphically, the battered woman syndrome is characterized by the so-called
"cycle of violence" which has three phases: (1) the tension building phase; (2)
the acute battering incident; and (3) the tranquil, loving (or, at least, non
violent) phase.

If we have enough laws to address this important problem, then it would

be an easier and swift process for a woman who is economically
underprivileged to escape in such situation. There should also be a law that
will protect the safety of the mother and child for such cases of very violent
and abusive husband. In the light of a divorce law, these problems are all
covered in the said law. If our country would allow applying this divorce law,
we might save a large number of casualties coming from these abusive
relationships. Application of divorce in Philippine law with a strong sense of
confidence that it will be used responsibly by Filipino couples is being
encouraged. This confidence stems from the experiences of Filipino families

that show that separation is usually the last

resort of many Filipino couples whose marriages have failed. Cases of

battered women also support this. Battered women invariably seek separation
only after
many years of trying to make the marriage work; separation only becomes
imperative for them when they realize that it is necessary for their and their
children’s survival. Divorce could actually provide protection to battered
women and their children from further violence and abuse.

This research study would intend to enlighten the government about the
present condition of families in our country particularly the economically
underprivileged sector suffering from abusive family relationship. As the basic
social institution which comprises the stability of a nation, the government
should take this problem seriously because we should all know that the family
is the foundation of what kind a person is made when he grows up. It is
related in cases of battered spouses where the mind of the abuser spouse or
husband gets corrupted and imbibed the act of physical abuse to women
which is not normal and considered as an offense by the law. In reality,
present laws covering these situations are not effective to protect and serve
the community because laws cannot protect the family without protecting each
individual’s right. This study will focus on the families in the poor economic
sector because they are vulnerable to such cases. Their rights are not
exercised and their claims are not being heard because they are only little
voices compared to the bigger and controversial issues involving powerful
people, who are busy getting and benefiting the riches and taxes of our
country. Without these economically underprivileged sectors of our economy,
we cannot be called a nation. So in light of this divorce law which intended to
help these people, it would be a start of the right path to good governance and
stability of our nation. Imagine if every wife in the Philippines is happily living
with her chosen partner in life or being in good family relations, it would
probably contribute in the progress of our country. Can one imagine what kind
of child will grow up if almost all families in the Philippines are living an ideal

life? It would result to less crime and less disputes among people. The
parents will be able to guide their children properly.

Provisions of House Bill 1799 (Divorce Law) will not only protect the
battered woman and her children. It will also result to a greater economy
because of good family foundation.

We must not be left behind by other countries that are progressing. In the
modern era of new society, our existing laws for remedies must be applicable
and adaptable to the changing needs and conditions of the family. Indeed, it is
a common saying that the only permanent thing in this world is change.


This study is important regarding the applicability of divorce law in the

Philippines. Our present society is currently not focusing on issues relating to
marriage. This study seeks to enlighten our government that a time for
change is needed. Growing number of married battered women in the
Philippine society is still increasing. Take this one situation of a married
battered woman in the Philippines. It was the middle of the night when
Rowena (not her real name) woke to the sounds of her husband in his
drunken stupor returning home and struggling with the door. Her heart was
pounding for she knew all too well from a long and painful experience what
would happen next. And so it did: Before she had a chance to jump off the
bed to defend herself, he was already punching her full in the face. By the
time he was finished assaulting her, Rowena’s face and body was a mass of
cuts and bruises which took more than a week to heal. Physically if not
emotionally recovered, Rowena finally decided that enough was enough.
“Ayoko na. Pagod na ako. (I couldn’t bear it any longer. I was tired)," she said.
Then aged 22, a college dropout and jobless, Rowena packed her things up,
got together her three children and left. “It was the best decision I’ve ever
made," she said looking back. But were it not for her parents providing

support and a place to go, Rowena admits she would not have been able to
muster enough courage to leave. Like her, few battered

wives have the luxury of returning to their childhood homes.

Battering happens every day and sometimes not being noticed in our
society. According to the Gabriela Women’s Party, a Congressional group that
is committed to promoting the rights and interests of marginalized and
disadvantaged women, a Filipina is a victim of domestic abuse every two
hours. “The problem of domestic violence is extremely common," says
spokeswoman Gert Libang, “but the question that always pops into the heads
of victims is: ‘How will I feed my children if I leave?’ She adds that nearly all of
the 400 women who sought help from Gabriela Women’s Party last year were
jobless mothers with no means to make a successful getaway from abusive

With the predominance of the Catholic faith in the Philippines, the fear that
divorce will erode personal values on marriage appears unfounded. There are
also some biblical grounds for divorce. Based on Matthew 19 and I
Corinthians 7:12-15, there are three circumstances or grounds for a valid,
Biblical divorce and remarriage. These are:

(1) When the marriage and divorce occurred prior to salvation;

(2) When one’s mate is guilty of sexual immorality and is unwilling to repent
and live faithfully with the marriage partner;
(3) When one of the mates is an unbeliever and willfully and permanently
deserts the believing partner.

The Radio Bible Class Ministries article by Vander Lugt discusses in

greater detail the issue of domestic violence or spousal abuse as a ground for
divorce. Vander Lugt basically agrees with Swindoll and Anderson that the
Bible permits divorce and remarriage on two grounds: sexual infidelity and the
desertion of a spouse by an unbeliever. However, Vander Lugt argues that I

Corinthians 7:10-11 is the Apostle Paul’s compassionate provision for an
abused woman. He states, “ … a woman who is married to a physically
abusive husband may

not be sinning when, with the encouragement of her spiritual counselors, she
seeks divorce action – even if her husband is not guilty of sexual immorality.”
He adds however that in such a case, remarriage is not allowed. The
experience of Italy, where the Vatican is located, and Spain, two
predominantly Catholic countries which practice divorce, supports this. Those
countries have a low rate of divorce. Italy registers a 7% rate while Spain
registers 15%. The figures reflect the strong influence of religious beliefs and
culture on individuals in deciding to terminate marital relations.

The protection of these vulnerable and disadvantageous sectors which

are the married women who are economically underprivileged must be the
prime concern in constructing the divorce law. The basis is Article 24 of the
Civil Code of the Philippines which states In all contractual, property or other
relations, when one of the parties is at a disadvantage on account of his moral
dependence, ignorance, indigence, mental weakness, tender age or other
handicap, the courts must be vigilant for his protection.

In the midst of the persistent patriarchal culture of Filipinos, women’s

organizations have however successfully managed to bring the issue of
domestic violence to Congress which passed the Anti-Violence against
Women and their Children Act in 2004. Under this law, violence means not
only physical abuse such as beatings and sexual attacks, but also that which
is economic or psychological in nature. The law defines economic abuse as
the withdrawal of financial support or preventing the victim from engaging in
any legitimate occupation, except in cases wherein the other spouse or
partner objects on valid, serious and moral grounds. Psychological abuse is
when a woman or child is put to shame in public and subjected to verbal
abuse, among others. Treating the woman as a sexual object ranks as “sexual

abuse." If serious violence is committed against women while they are
pregnant or in the presence of her children, courts are instructed to apply the
maximum penalty

allowable which includes life imprisonment.

There are nineteen victims of marital violence every day. In 2009, wife
battery ranked highest among cases of violence against women at 72 percent,
victimizing 6,783 women. About three out of ten perpetrators of violence
against women are husbands of the victims, according to Philippine National
Police (PNP). Some 800 cases for legal separation and annulment are filed
every month before the Office of the Solicitor General. Over 43,650
applications were recorded from 2001 to 2007.

Reported cases of battering significantly increased. Thinking that no other

means of escape these women suffer a lot. The Philippine National Police
(PNP) says the law effectively encourages victims to come forward and report
their case to the authorities. In less than ten years, police have noted a big
leap in the number of cases reported to them: from 1,100 in 1996 to over
6,500 by 2005. The PNP says that while husbands are the primary
perpetrators, some are boyfriends or unmarried partners. It believes, however,
that there are many more victims who do not report attacks to the authorities
because of reasons similar to those cited by Gabriela Women’s Party. They
do not see a way out.
“There is an element of forgiveness for the sake of family togetherness," says
Chief Supt. Yolanda Tanigue, chief of the PNP Women and Children’s
Gabriela Women’s Party adds that the pain of breaking a family is further
sealed by the tragic belief that violence in the confines of intimate
relationships is trivial. It recounts cases when a victim rushes to the village
chieftain or barangay captain to seek help, only to be told to go back home
and discuss it out with the spouse because, after all, it is simply a couple’s
quarrel or better known in Filipino as away mag-asawa. “For the barangay the

quarrel only becomes a case when someone is already dead," says
spokeswoman Libang. She claims that some male lawyers and judges fail to
take the issue of domestic violence seriously enough. She maintains that
some even have accused victims of having “raging insecurities" while others
have been reprimanded for “wasting

the court’s time.”

There are still more undocumented and unreported cases where women
opt to suffer in silence for the sake of family togetherness. Violence also goes
unreported due to victim’s embarrassment, not knowing how or to whom to
report, or worst of all, the tragic belief that the violence was unimportant and
that nothing could be done anyway. Yet these victims are wasting away from
the unresolved injustice of their lives. Of the reported cases, authorities say
the primary perpetrators of violence are husbands. In 2003, the Social
Weather Station, a research and survey institution in the Philippines,
conducted a survey of men who admitted having physically harmed women.
Thirty-nine (39) percent had committed it against their wives; 15 percent were
violent toward their girlfriends; 4 percent beat their unmarried partners. The
rest of the attacks against women were committed by men unknown to them.
Clearly, domestic violence or violence in the confines of intimate relationships
is the most prevalent form of abuse against women in the Philippines.
Combine a no-divorce policy and you get an agonizing picture of Filipino
women. How they subsist and survive in this situation is hard to imagine. On
an international scale, a World Bank analysis indicates that half of the world’s
women have been battered by an intimate partner. In Asia, 60% of all women
have been assaulted. The impact on children is appalling. Body Shop
International estimates that 1.8 to 3.2 million children in the Philippines are
exposed to domestic violence and suffer the traumatic effects for the rest of
their lives. This number just escalates year after year.

The Women’s Legal Bureau (WLB), a legal resource for women agreed

that present laws relating to the separation of couples and termination of
marriage are inadequate to respond to the myriad causes of failed marriages.
“Particularly, the remedies of declaration of nullity and annulment do not cover
the problems that occur during the existence of marriage. Legal separation,

the other hand, while covering problems during marriage, does not put an end
to marriage.” A person who is separated can still be charged with bigamy or
concubinage, if and when he or she enters into another relationship.

The Philippines allowed divorce during the Spanish era, the American
period and the Japanese Occupation. Only in 1950 did a new civil code take
effect, disallowing divorce under Philippine law. The 1988 Family Code
adopted the same policy but it did provide for nullification of marriage on
grounds of psychological incapacity. While a few brave legislators have
authored bills to legalize divorce, none of these have seen the light of day.
Proposed bills regularly expire at the committee level before they can even be
deliberated up in Congress. Psychological incapacity is a very limited basis
but the Supreme Court describes psychological incapacity as an incurable
disease. The focus must shift from psychological grounds to issues of gender
inequality and freedom from unhealthy and devastating relationships. A
petition for nullification of marriage is also a far cry from the usual divorce
proceeding being practiced worldwide.

In formulating a national divorce law one must account for the existing
indigenous community practices where proceedings are performed by
mumbakis (indigenous priests) or tribal leaders. Many marriages have been
solemnized not in city halls, but in tribal communities. The important thing is to
recognize what they deem as a practical and sensible divorce law in their own
context she says. In the end, these bills failed to advance beyond the filing
stage and were not even calendared for reading because they were not

Most Filipinos take the side of the Catholic Church, although there has
been no costly referendum. Anyone who advocates for divorce is judged
immoral and without conscience. Staying married for the sake of the family is
considered a sacrifice with heavenly rewards. Plus, Filipino women tend to

submit to society’s pressures. They dare not earn the ire and judgment of their
community. The path usually pursued, which is still unpopular, is to separate,
but this leaves women in a legal bind. It takes financial independence for a
woman to make a successful getaway from an abusive partner. She must be
able to sustain herself and her children to ward off the abusive husband who
would try to harass her into coming back. The social stigma for a woman who
breaks up her marriage is deep-seated, disconcerting and disempowering.
Those who have gone through annulment cases attest to just how
painstakingly long and tedious the process is to prove the other person is
psychologically incapacitated. Women who have gone through annulment
claim that it eats up an enormous part of their resources, makes their lives a
public show, and even then they wait for years for the court to grant them
marital freedom. Others have waited in vain when the courts simply denied
their claims.

When will the government realize that a divorce law is not meant to
advocate separation and broken marriage, but merely expands the choices of
its citizenry? When the state offers no viable alternative to desperate,
hopeless marriages, it is tantamount to a human rights violation by the State.


This study will be conducted to determine the efficiency and practicability

of divorce law to address the problems of battered married women in the
economically underprivileged sector of our society in this modern day period.
The aspects to be looked into are the applicability of this law to provide
protection and security to the life of the battered women and her children, the

practical and efficient process to help married battered women get out of the
abusive relationship, the ability of this law to provide financial assistance to
economically underprivileged battered women, to be aware of the present
condition of modern day families, to know the impact of abusive relationship in

our society and how to address the problems encountered and provide
proposed solutions.

Divorce (or the dissolution of marriage) is the termination of a marital

union, the canceling and/or reorganizing of the legal duties and
responsibilities of marriage, thus dissolving the bonds of matrimony between
a married couple under the rule of law of the particular country and/or state.
This is the legal definition of divorce by Wikipedia dictionary. Basically, it is the
State which has the power to decide whether or not to apply divorce law in a
country. Other studies have shown the beneficial effects of divorce law which
are accepted internationally.

Scope of the Study

This study covers a broad application since every part of our country is
composed of different families. It has a general in scope for it intends to
conduct a survey on families affected by marriage problems. Specifically,
broken marriage of every battered women.

As a proposed remedy is the application of the provisions of divorce law.

Divorce mediation is one possibility. As an informal process, it is an instrument
for the application of equity rather than the rule of law and allows the social
and cultural context of relationships to be considered and emotions to be dealt
A civil divorce requires broad substantive topics or issues such as custody,
child and spousal maintenance and the division of property. Where ‘divorce
mediation’ is used as a defining concept, the number of issues will be limited
to cases of physically abused and suffering battered women.

To provide protection to battered women is the initial reason for the
of this study. A survey or an interview to different families will be conducted to
enlighten the readers of this research about what is happening in reality.

experiences will be studied based on their religious, socio-economic, political,

cultural and legal context. Lessons and insights will be drawn up, and from
these lessons it will be part of the research study.

Practical and efficient process to help married battered women get out of
the abusive relationship will also be studied in this research. This research
study will dig into the situation of the economically underprivileged sector for it
has a great relevance to them for the reasons of financial constraints to file an
annulment case. In reality an annulment case also takes two years or longer
to reach a conclusion. The cost could reach P250,000 ($5,813) which
includes attorney fees, court docketing fee and filing fees plus a host of
associated fees such as court appearances fees for the attorney.

This study will also dig deep to the needs of battered women including its
financial, spiritual and emotional in order to recover from past abusive
relations. Results or data’s from this research will also include a thorough
analysis on the impact to society of having the right and efficient remedies
available to solve marriage beyond repair. This study intends to enlighten the
government for adapting divorce law in our country.

Delimitations of the Study

This research study would be limited to Catholic Filipino families which are
dominantly living in all areas of the Philippines. It will focus on the application
of divorce law as a remedy only in cases of battered married women who are
part of the poor economic sector of our government. The privacy and

confidentiality of every respondent will be respected in the publication of
results conducted during interview. Proper request prior to interview will be
observed and proper permission will be obtained for purposes that will include
the respondents’ identity in the research that is considered vital in the
effectiveness and validity of the information involved.

The method of research that will be used in this study is Descriptive
Method and Empirical Investigation Method.

Descriptive Method will be used primarily in this research to collate the

detailed information and knowledge about the subject of the study which is the
married battered women and the applicability of Divorce Law to their cases.
This method will involve gathering data that describe the events of battering
and then organize them as part of data collection.

The study is aimed to find out the applicability of Divorce Law to the lives
of married battered women. Observational and survey methods are the
methods that will be utilized to collect descriptive data among the
respondents. The Researcher will conduct interview and surveys which will be
aided by questionnaires which will be composed of open-ended or closed
format questionnaire.

Closed format questionnaires will include multiple choice questions in

which the married battered women as respondents of the study will be bound
to answer based only on the given choices among which they have to select
the best response according to their personal experience and judgment, thus
allowing the Researcher to calculate statistical data and percentages with
outmost exactness and precision.

Open-ended questionnaires will be asked simultaneously to the

respondents and are formulated in form of incomplete sentences in which the
missing information have to be supplied by the respondent. The intention of

the Researcher with this technique would be to find out and know the precise
state of thoughts and the meaningful answer of the respondents on the given

This research is conducted primarily in the form of interviews with victims

of domestic violence, drawn from the list of National Statistics Office (NSO)
Philippine National Police of cases of battering to spouses and from self-
referred battered women who volunteered for the study. The major study will
be conducted on battered women and will involve a one man research force
who will conduct hours of interviews with the women, utilizing both open and
closed-ended questions.

In this research there will be interviews with women who are victims of
domestic abuse. Investigation on the claim that women who were victims of
domestic abuse had sufficiently uniform experiences resulting in particular
effects as to warrant the categorization of their experiences into "Battered
Woman Syndrome."

Empirical Investigation Method in this research will be used to assess the

impact of Divorce Law and to reveal the gap between the legal idealism of not
allowing divorce law in our country and the social reality that cases of
battering of married women in the poor economic sector are being
disregarded or not being the focus of our government laws.

The Researcher will explore the social dimensions or implications of

Divorce Law as revealed in the life of the respondents. The Researcher will
compare and contrast the findings from the responses of the respondents to
the effects of implementation of Divorce Law to the lives of economically
underprivileged married battered women in our country.

A Descriptive Study in this study is one in which information is collected

without changing the environment (i.e., nothing is manipulated). It is used to

obtain information concerning the current status of the phenomena to
describe "what exists" with respect to variables or conditions in a situation.
The methods involved range from the survey which describes the status quo,
the correlation study which investigates the relationship between variables, to
developmental studies which seek to determine changes over time.
Descriptive research designs will also offer a unique means of data
collection in this study. Cases of married battered women studies can be
based on various sources such as newspaper reports or personal accounts.
These accounts provide insight into life experiences. An observational
technique for data collection can be an organic means to study life
experiences and can often remove the barriers of strict academic approaches
as the researcher witnesses how others experience an event.

Confidentiality will be the primary weakness of Descriptive Research

Method in this study. There will be circumstance when subjects are not truthful
as they feel the need to tell the Researcher what they think the Researcher
wants to hear. This is particularly difficult during interviews. Participants may
also refuse to provide answers to questions they view to be too personal.
Furthermore, the idea that someone is watching can turn an observation into
an event where people are acting how they perceive they should act. Proper
permission will be obtained prior to the conduct of interview and a critical
analysis and review of the responses will be conducted to obtain the truth and
precise answers to the questions.


Not long ago, whatever that happened within the home of Filipino families
is considered as private and confidential and is out of public scrutiny. Does
our government pay attention to strengthen the family relations or they only
set unrealistic guidelines to maintain the current family set-up in our country?
What is the focus and intention of our government laws if they can influence
the bond of every marriage?

What is the present condition of families in the poor economic sector?
During the last two decades, there has been an increase in awareness of the
seriousness of child abuse and neglect, and spouse/partner abuse not only as
critical societal problems but a global concern. As a result, there has been an
increase in the use of the criminal process in addressing family and domestic
violence. National incidence reports and research studies reveal the dramatic
increase in family violence and the increasing tendency to respond to the
problem not only as crime within the family but also as the prevention of crime
outside the family. What are the actions of our government to provide a
remedy to these increasing or worsening conditions? Do these actions or laws
enacted by the government effective?

What will be the effects to a child being reared in a family where her
mother is being battered or where there is an abusive family relationship
environment? The family violence problem increased with the 1984 report of
the Attorney General's Task Force on Family Violence. The Task Force stated:
"A great proportion of those who assault both strangers and loved ones were
raised themselves in violent households. This is learned behavior. To tolerate
family violence is to allow the seeds of violence to be sown into the next
generation." A justice focus on family violence is thus one that concerns
violence prevention as well as a just outcome in individual cases. This
violence can have a profound effect on preschooler’s cognitive and emotional
development. Studies suggest that younger children may be more vulnerable
to the effects of witnessing domestic violence than older children (Johnson
and Lieberman, 2011) so it is very disturbing to recognize that young children
are more likely to witness incidents of violence than older children (Ybarra,
Wilkens, & Lieberman, 2011). Witnessing these acts of violence has a
detrimental effect on the cognitive development as well as emotion regulation
and internalizing and externalizing behaviors in preschoolers (Lieberman,
2011; Ybarra, Wilkens, & Lieberman). Studies show that dysfunctional
development can be deterred through a positive relationship with mother and
child, and that resilience is possible if a nurturing relationship exists in which

the mother is attuned to her child’s emotions.

What is the current state of battered married women living in the poor
economic sector? Are there enough Laws to help them alleviate their
sufferings? Considering that people who are less in life must be more on laws.

Are the rights of these battered women being exercised and given priority
by our present laws? The 1987 Constitution is mandated to protect and serve
the people. What are the support and assistance given by the government to
these battered women? What kind of protection these battered women
received? On the part of the Catholic people, does the application of Divorce
Law as a remedy to these problems viewed as immoral and morally impaired?


The family, being the foundation of the nation, is a basic social institution
which public policy cherishes and protects. Family relations are governed by
the laws of our country. The Philippines is a country which does not recognize
divorce law. The last nation apart from Vatican that disallows divorce, the
government should be able to act in accordance to serve and protect its

The Battered Women Syndrome is a result of episodic domestic violence.

The violence can be physical, mental or both. As a result of the violence and
the intimidation, the person suffering from the syndrome is not able to escape
from it. In my search around the areas of the Philippines about the present
conditions of families suffering from battered women syndrome. I can
conclude that these women need help from our government which can only
be provided by the enactment of such laws that will make them start a new
life. I can say that Divorce Law might shed the light in the lives of these
battered women to have a new life.

In the Philippines, a husband and wife can part only through death, or
the torturous process of annulment. Under Philippine law, two people wishing
to end their marriage have limited options. They can file for legal separation,
which will allow them to separate their possessions and live apart, but does
not legally end a marital union and thus does not permit remarriage. They can
file for divorce if they are among the estimated 5 percent of the population that
is Muslim and is governed by the Code of Muslim Personal Laws.

They can get an annulment, which in the Philippines is a lengthy and

expensive court proceeding. (An ecclesiastical annulment, granted through a
Church tribunal, is a separate procedure, without which a Catholic cannot get
remarried in the Church. Pope Francis has said that the Church should
“streamline” this process, which can take up to a decade.) An annulment ends

a marriage, but differs from divorce in important ways. The parties, for
instance, must prove that the marriage was never valid to begin with. Under
Philippine law, reasons can include one or both parties having been below the
age of 18 when they got married, either party having an incurable sexually
transmitted disease, or cases of polygamy or mistaken identity.

Divorce has not always been banned in the Philippines. The Spanish
colonizers who ruled the island until the late 19th century imposed their own
Catholic traditions, allowing “relative divorce,” or legal separation, in cases
involving adultery or one spouse joining a religious order. But the relevant law
declared that “so great is the tie and force of marriage, that when legally
contracted, it cannot be dissolved even if one of the parties should turn
heretic, or Jew, or Moor, or even commit adultery.” After the Spanish era,
divorce laws depended on the colonizer. The Americans, who acquired the
nation in 1898 following the Spanish-American War, allowed divorce, but only
on the grounds of adultery or concubinage. The Japanese, who occupied the
Philippines during World War II, introduced liberal divorce laws. Following
liberation, however, divorce was once again outlawed—except among the
Muslim minority—under the Philippine Civil Code of 1949.

If marriage is essentially a contract, the difference between an annulment

and a divorce is the difference between declaring the contract null—because,
say, it was signed under conditions of duress or fraud—and terminating it.

In the case of marriage, declaring the contract null is a far more difficult
proposition. Infidelity and physical abuse, for example, are not on the list of
acceptable reasons for a marriage to be declared invalid under Philippine law.
A petitioner seeking to leave a marriage for those or any number of other
reasons has to try to prove that his or her spouse is suffering from
“psychological incapacity” such as narcissistic personality disorder.

Let me cite an example, a Filipino TV host Amy Perez is familiar with the
difficulties these rules pose. Perez married a rock musician in 1995, and the

couple had a son two years later. But within a year of his birth, Perez’s
husband had left her with their baby and gone to live abroad. Perez filed for
an annulment in 2000, and was denied. She appealed and lost. In 2006, the
Philippine Supreme Court declined to hear her case, declaring:

We find the husband’s alleged mixed personality disorder, the ‘leaving-

the-house’ attitude whenever they quarreled, the violent tendencies during
epileptic attacks, the sexual infidelity, the abandonment and lack of support,
and his preference to spend more time with his band mates than his family,
are not rooted on some debilitating psychological condition but a mere refusal
or unwillingness to assume the essential obligations of marriage.

Statistics from the Philippines’ Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) show
that there were more than 10,000 petitions filed to end marriages in 2013, out
of a population of roughly 100 million, with women filing slightly more than half
of the petitions. The most recent statistics OSG provided me, based on a
sample of such cases from 2010 to 2011, showed that 6 percent of these
petitions were dismissed or denied. But this obscures the fact that such cases
can drag on for years, and that court fees, which typically amount to nearly
$400 just to file paperwork, can exceed the average monthly wages of Filipino
workers, which a 2012 International Labor Organization study estimated at
less than $300. “The system is so unfair, especially to women in a situation of
abandonment. Why do they have to make it so hard?” asked Perez, whose
marriage didn’t formally end until a decade after her husband left her. She
declined to give details about how she finally obtained the annulment. Last
year, she married her longtime boyfriend, with whom she has two children.
Like Perez, I filed for annulment claiming my spouse was psychologically
incapacitated. My lawyer suggested I try to have both of us declared
psychologically incapacitated to double the chances of success, but I refused.
I was afraid such a designation would damage my chances of getting a job or
custody of my daughter. “Psychological incapacity,” more than one lawyer told
me, was just the Philippine version of “irreconcilable differences.” “Don’t worry.
It’s just a term to justify your petition,” my lawyer assured me, echoing the two

other lawyers I had consulted before her. (I wanted a second opinion.) They
all gave me some variation on: “It’s just the Philippine version of ‘irreconcilable
differences.’” But making such a claim is not an innocuous formality. Trying to
show psychological incapacity is an adversarial process in civil court, aimed at
proving beyond a reasonable doubt that one spouse was exhibiting behavior
indicating an inability to take on the responsibilities of marriage. It means
stating in public court all the reasons—both trivial and consequential—why
you cannot stay married to your spouse. It involves psychological tests and, in
some cases, witnesses. It’s a game of mud-slinging and one-upmanship that
makes breaking up that much harder and uglier. It encourages a petitioner to
exaggerate problems—to declare a once-loved partner an alcoholic as
opposed to someone who occasionally came home drunk, or a chronic
womanizer as opposed to someone who once had an affair.

“The process is inhumane. It is hurtful to two people who may have at one
point loved each other and may have even tried to work it out,” Philippine
Senator Pia Cayetano, a prominent women’s-rights legislator, told me. She
should know: She’s been through it too. This kind of hassle can be avoided for
the right price, however.

A bill to legalize divorce, proposed in 2010, received little support from the
country’s Catholic, bachelor president, who told reporters that he did not want
to turn the Philippines into Las Vegas, where the stereotype is you get married
in the morning and you get divorced in the afternoon.” In the meantime,
Philippine public opinion has moved steadily in favor of legalizing divorce,
from 50 percent in March 2011 to 60 percent in December 2014, according to
a survey by the Philippine research institution Social Weather Stations. When
legislators were asked if the results of the survey would sway their opinion on
divorce, one senator explained: “I cannot favor a divorce law. My wife might
use that against me.”

If there’s a middle ground between Vegas and the Vatican, the pope didn’t
advocate for it during his recent visit to the Philippines, despite his earlier calls

for the Church to show more kindness toward sinners. And so the Philippines,
the land of no divorce, continues to lay claim to a title no other country wants.

The situation of economically underprivileged women in our country who

are battered by their husband everyday clearly shows no chance of escape
without the proper intervention of the government. There are instances when
people become helpless and they lost direction in life because of the wrong
decisions they took which made them humans, we are the creatures who are
not perfect but posses intelligence and rational thinking to correct our past
mistakes. The people in the government who hold the power to enact laws
must be able to do their duty to the people. We must start the path to a good
governance and a good start is to focus on the basic autonomous social
institution which is the family.