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AFFIRMING THE LEGALIZATION OF DIVORCE

The opposition to divorce is no longer organic, considering that a clear majority, or 54


percent of Filipinos, support its legalization, according to a survey conducted by the Social
Weather Station (SWS).

In a vote of 134-57, the lower house of Congress approved on third and final reading
House Bill 7303 or "An Act Instituting Absolute Divorce and Dissolution of Marriage in the
Philippines." Divorce, especially referring to what is provided for under House Bill 7303, is an
advantageous remedy. To summarize, here are two main reasons why divorce must be allowed:

I. Legalizing divorce will offer a lifeline to spouses, especially abused women,


trapped in violent marriages.
II. Legalizing divorce will provide for inexpensive relief in irremediably failed
marriages.

GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE:


House Bill 7303

•Repeated physical violence or grossly abusive conduct directed against the petitioner, a
common child, or a child of the petitioner
•Physical violence or moral pressure to compel the petitioner to change religious or political
affiliation
•Attempt against the life of the petitioner, a common child, or a child of the petitioner

Supporting Facts:

Based on the preliminary findings of the 2017 National Demographic and Health Survey
(NDHS), one in four (26%) ever-married women aged 15-49 has ever experienced physical,
sexual or emotional violence by their husband or partner. One in five (20%) women has ever
experienced emotional violence, 14 percent has ever experienced physical violence, and 5
percent has ever experienced sexual violence by their current or most recent husband or partner.

In a study entitled Dynamics of Abuse authored by Alicia Estrellado of De La Salle


University Manila, a real-life case of Abel who was separated from her husband of four years
was cited. She described her husband as being out of his mind when under the influence of drug.
He would slap her, punch her, and throw her out of their room. The most painful abuse she said
she experienced was when he kicked her in the stomach when she was three months pregnant
with their first baby. She was brought to the hospital and was uncontrollable when she found out
that she had lost her baby.
Melody Alan, secretary-general of the Divorce Advocates of the Philippines, told AFP,
"He strangled me, pushed me against a wall. I was crying and screaming. I couldn't breathe". She
has endured 14 years of abuse from an unfaithful and alcoholic husband. Mrs Alan, 44 years old,
said her husband agreed to accept an annulment if she paid for it -- something she could in "no
way" afford while raising four kids.

GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE:


House Bill 7303

•Contracting by the respondent of a subsequent bigamous marriage, whether in the Philippines or


abroad
•Marital infidelity or perversion or having a child with another person other than one’s spouse
during the marriage, except when the spouses have agreed to a having a child through in vitro or
a similar procedure, or when the wife bears a child as a result of being a rape victim

Supporting Facts:

An average of 500,000 marriages take place each year in the Philippines with 20-percent
breakup rate in our country.
The husband’s infidelity is a major concern in Filipino marriages (PCP II, 1992).
Carandang (1987) notes that wives rank infidelity as the number one family stressor. Lacar
(1993) reports that male infidelity is the most frequent reason for marital separation. Vancio
(1980, 1977) cites male infidelity as a major issue for marital break-ups in Metro Manila. In
the McCann Metro Manila Male Study (1995), half of the 485 male respondents reported having
had extramarital affairs. Relucio (1995) in her in-depth interview with seven separated women,
notes that "infidelity was found to be a common problem." Dayan, et. al. (1995) in their study of
60 petitioners for nullity of marriage, report that adultery was one of the major reasons cited.
There are a number of feelings reported from various studies. Torres (1998) cites
Guthrie’s study (1970) about Filipino "wives worried over losing their spouses to other women."
Tanseco (1972) mentions the point of view of the unfaithful husband: "I cannot help it. I love my
family, but I also love my querida." Tanseco observes this feeling of being driven and the split
within the Filipino husband: weakness of will. There is a feeling of near admiration for the
unfaithful husband who is not caught and a feeling of pity for him and the wife (de Vera 1976).
Usually, the wife is blamed for her husband’s infidelity.

http://www.eapi.org.ph/resources/eapr/east-asian-pastoral-review-2003/volume-40-2003-
number-2/the-filipino-context-of-infidelity-and-resilience
Legal Basis:

Sec 3 of the House Bill 7303 reads "The state shall assure that the court proceedings for the grant
of absolute divorce shall be affordable and inexpensive, particularly for court assisted litigants
and petitioners.

Sec 4 (k) of the House Bill 7303 under the Definition of terms “ Court assisted petitioner or
petitioners refer to those who have personal or real properties not exceeding Five million pesos
(PHP 5,0000,000.00)

Sec 6 (c) of the House Bill 7303 under the Procedure of Obtaining Absolute Divorce “Upon
application of a court-assisted petitioner or petitioners, the proper court shall waive the payment
of filing fees and other costs of litigation, and shall appoint a counsel de oficio the court assisted
petitioner or petitioners and assign social workers psychologists and psychiatrist preferably from
appropriate government agencies to assists the said petitioner and the court”
Supporting Facts:

"Pantaleon Alvarez, in an interview with AFP, said that ending his first marriage cost him a
million pesos, which is more than triple what an average family in the Philippines makes in a
year. In a report presented by the Philippine Statistics Authority in 2016, the average annual
family income is 267,000 pesos. The least cost of an annulment or legal separation is about
250,000 pesos which leaves an average family with only 17,000 pesos in one year.

The process can take anywhere from 1 to 10 years to wind through the over burdened Philippine
court system, but with a divorce under House Bill 7303, such will be resolved. During the
committee’s deliberations on February 21, the members agreed that litigation and fees would be
waived for “indigent” divorce applicants. They would also be entitled to lawyers assigned by the
court. Deputy Speaker Pia Cayetano explained that the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) they
consulted had specifically asked that the process would be affordable or would not cost them a
year's salary, which is exactly the problem now under our currently available legal recourses in
marriages. And by legalizing divorce through the enactment of House Bill 7303, these problems
that our country has long disregarded will finally be resolved.
GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE:
House Bill 7303

•Repeated physical violence or grossly abusive conduct directed against the petitioner, a
common child, or a child of the petitioner
•Physical violence or moral pressure to compel the petitioner to change religious or political
affiliation
•Attempt of respondent to corrupt or induce the petitioner to change religious or political
affiliation.
•Final judgement sentencing the respondent to imprisonment of more than 6 years, even if
pardoned
•Drug addiction or habitual alcoholism or chronic gambling of the respondent
•Homosexuality of the respondent
•Contracting by the respondent of a subsequent bigamous marriage, whether in the Philippines or
abroad
•Marital infidelity or perversion or having a child with another person other than one’s spouse
during the marriage, except when the spouses have agreed to a having a child through in vitro or
a similar procedure, or when the wife bears a child as a result of being a rape victim
•Attempt against the life of the petitioner, a common child, or a child of the petitioner
•Abandonment without justifiable cause for more than a year

•Those legally separated by judicial decree for more than two years can also avail of divorce

•One of the spouses was older than 18 but younger than 21 at the time of marriage without the
consent of a parent, guardian, or substitute parental authority unless after the age of 21, the pair
freely cohabitated and lived together
•Either party was of unsound mind, unless such party, after coming to reason, freely
cohabilitated with the other
•The consent of one party was obtained through fraud unless, despite after knowing the fraud,
continued to cohabit as husband and wife
•That the consent of one party was obtained by force, intimidation, or undue influence, unless
despite the cessation of such, the pair continued to cohabit
•That either party was incapable of consummating the marriage with the other, and the incapacity
continues or appears to be incurable
•That either party is afflicted with a sexually transmissible infection that is serious or appears to
be incurable
The bill introduces the following additional grounds:
•Separation for at least 5 years at the time the petition is filed, with reconciliation “highly
improbable,” except if the separation is due to the overseas employment of one or both spouses
in different countries, or due to the employment of one of the spouses in another province or
region distant from the conjugal home
•Psychological incapacity of other spouse as defined in Article 36 of the Family Code, whether
or not the incapacity was present at the time of marriage or later
•When one of the spouses undergoes gender reassignment surgery or transition from one sex to
another
•Irreconcilable marital differences and conflicts resulting in the “total breakdown of the marriage
beyond repair” despite the efforts of both spouse