By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Like his colleagues, Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III is cold over the proposal to legalize the absolute divorce in the Philippines, saying that are already “remedies” in place for separating spouses.
Pimentel said the Senate is unlikely to approve a measure on divorce such as what is currently being allowed in the United States and other countries.
This developed as the House committee on population and family relations recently approved the proposed “An Act Instituting Divorce and Absolute Dissolution of Marriage in the Philippines,” which is being pushed by at least 30 congressmen, including Pimentel’s partymate and ally, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.
“Malabo siguro ang American style [divorce] na parang vending machine. Maglalagay ka lang ng piso, divorced ka na, malabo po yun. Huwag natin asahan na ganon (It is unlikely to pass an American-style divorce which is like a vending machine. You can’t just insert a coin and get divorced. That is unlikely. Let’s not expect it to happen),” the Senate leader said in a radio interview today.
Pimentel however clarified that the Upper Chamber has not yet closed its doors for the review and consideration of the “controversial” proposal, saying that its filing opened discussions on the possibility.
But he cited that there are existing proceedings on the separation of spouses, such as annulment or the declaration of nullity of marriage as stated in the Family Code of the Philippines.
Instead of tackling divorce, which he called an “atomic bomb” to marriage, Pimentel said current laws should be reviewed to address tedious annulment cases.
He said the Senate will ask the Supreme Court to “audit” separation cases in courts which take years to be resolved and burden spouses with expensive fees.
“Let us warn first the judges of family courts who are sleeping over these cases. They should audit their performance. The Senate will audit their performance, too… We will check why they are taking so long,” he said.
Divorce, he said, is a choice “out of desperation.”
Senator Joel Villanueva meanwhile said he was saddened by the quick approval of the divorce bill in the Lower Chamber as he reiterated his disapproval of the measure.
Villanueva, who is known to be a son of a Christian leader, maintained that marriage “is a sacred thing.”
“What God has put together, let no man put asunder,” Villanueva said, quoting the Bible.
He however said that the Senate will not set aside grounds of separation due to abuse and violence, which is already in the Family Code.
He agreed with Pimentel in saying that the costly and tedious annulment proceedings should be addressed.
“It cannot be like a drive-thru of a fast-food chain that anytime you feel like leaving your husband or leaving your wife (you will do so)… It’s definitely over my dead body,” Villanueva said in a separate interview.
Senator Cynthia Villar, for her part, said that while she has yet to study the provisions of the House-approved measure, shared her colleagues’ belief that it will face rough sailing in the Senate.
“We are a Catholic country. Merong mabigat na kalaban ang divorce bill sa Pilipinas. mahihirapang ipasa sa Seando,” she said.