By Elena Aben
A bill that seeks to amend the Family Code of the Philippines and update the grounds for legal separation- to include physical violence, has been filed in the Senate.
Senate Bill no. 1366, an “Act expanding the grounds for legal separation, amending for the purpose Article 55 of the Family Code of the Philippines” was filed by Senator Grace Poe.
“As it stands now, the provision requires repeated physical violence or grossly abusive conduct in order to justify a legal separation,” said the senator.
“The wording is problematic because (1) the abuse must be repeated or grossly abusive sexual abuse, putting the life of the victim at risk; and (2) it does not recognize sexual abuse which is what usually happens in the privacy of homes,” she added.
Under the Civil Code, Poe said that any physical violence less than an attempt on the life of the other spouse is not a ground for legal separation.
“A husband who physically manhandles the wife every time he is drunk without intent to kill was not a ground for legal separation,” she said, adding that this ground was retained in Article 55 of the Family Code as one of the grounds for legal separation.”
She further pointed out that while the enumeration of grounds under the same Article has recognized attempts on the life of the spouse without intent to kill as sufficient reason to grant legal separation, “it has required proof of repetitiveness and gross abuse from the victim to legally separate from an abusive spouse.”