By Ellson Quismorio
If a Mindanao lawmaker would have his way, then five years of actual separation should be enough reason for a married couple to officially call it quits.
Surigao del Norte Rep. 2nd district Robert Ace Barbers has filed a bill that seeks to provide relief to many estranged Filipino couples who suffer from the effects of failed marriages.
House Bill (HB) No. 1062 provides that at least five years of actual separation should be a valid ground for an annulment, which is normally a very long, tedious and expensive legal process in the Philippines.
According to Barbers, a married couple that have been living separately for five years or more virtually have no chance of reconciliation.
“Why are we making it hard for aggrieved partners to annul their marriages? With the simple ground of a five-year separation as a valid reason, seeking an annulment of a marriage from court would be faster, simpler and less expensive,” said the solon, who also chairs the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs.
It should be noted that the Philippines, which is a predominantly Catholic country, is among the last few nations in the world that does not recognize divorce.
“Unlike the other grounds for annulment, the court would not need to investigate or prove collusion between the parties because they would just have to show they had been separated for five years,” Barbers said.
“This could be done through affidavits from their relatives or whatever documents the court may further require.”
Barbers hinted that his proposal is only fair given the realities of married people.
“Instead of being stuck in an unhappy marriage, or exposing the children to harm when their parents are fighting, or couples brazenly engaging in extramarital affairs, is it not fair to give these couples a way out for them to move on with their lives?” he asked.
“Tanggapin natin ang katotohanan na sa ibang mag-asawa, walang forever (Let’s accept the fact that, for other married couples, there is no forever),” Barbers concluded.