Divorce, separation and annulment are some of the most controversial issues today. For a country such as the Philippines where there is a huge Christian population (and being the only Christian nation in Asia), divorce is regarded a taboo.
The Divorce Bill was first filed by Gabriela Party-list Representative Liza Mazain 2005, re-filed by the party-list in 2010. However, deliberations on the bill was started only in June 2011. The Bill is constantly battered with intrigue and criticism, and some say that legalizing divorce in the Philippines is a wishful thinking. Here are ten reasons why the country does not need divorce:
#10: We Already Have a Partial Divorce Bill
The Philippines isn’t technically divorce-free with the House’s approval of the so-called Partial Divorce Bill or House Bill 5907. The Partial Divorce Bill seeks to amend the existing Family Code that states no Filipino spouse may remarry even if their foreigner spouse has long divorced them. You may read more about the Partial Divorce Bill here.
Now, any Filipino spouse whose foreigner spouse has divorced them are free to remarry without seeking judicial recognition. Still, some supporters of the Divorce Bill are concerned: why is it that only Filipinos married to and divorced from their foreigner spouses may enjoy a second chance?
#9: Divorce is Everywhere, but the Vatican and the Philippines
Yes, the Philippines is the ONLY country in the world that doesn’t recognize divorce. For some Pinoys, that’s something uniquely ours and perhaps something to be proud of. However, this can be a lame reason for us not needing divorce. Despite our philandering and abusive spouses, we need to stick it out because marriage is not like hot rice that we can always spit out when we’re burned. In marriage, you swallow it even when you’re burned.
While most of the current senators are against the legalization of divorce, Senator PiaCayetano said that being the only country with no divorce isn’t something to be proud of because it means we are self-suffering, and allowing men, women and even children to suffer by keeping them tied to horrible relationships.
#8: We Haven’t Perfected Annulment and Separation, Now Divorce?
Come to think of it, Pinoys suck at creating laws much more implementing them. Annulment is pretty much “available” to the rich and famous, but it’s prejudiced to those who can’t afford the half a million pesos worth of court and lawyer fees to go through annulment. Why, we should not be surprised if many spouses continue to be martyrs, enduring a life with their abusive or deceptive partners, all because annulment is insanely expensive. The annulment law itself is exploitative to an abused spouse’s pocket – adding insult to injury. If we can’t create and implement a Divorce Bill perfectly, then let’s not have it at all!
An anti-political dynasty bill has been gathering dust in Congress for nearly 30 years, and remains another one of those forgotten or overlooked bills. The Divorce bill is already on its 10th year of filing, and counting. President Noy, being the true Catholic that he is, couldn’t and wouldn’t sign it. After all, his family can afford annulment (just take Kris for instance). How about his successor?
#7: Pinoys Aren’t Ready to Live with the Stigma
Are you ready to be tagged as separada/o, hiwalaysaasawa, diborsyada/o? Why, these don’t connote anything positive to most Pinoys. We have long since accepted the existence of gays and lesbians, bisexuals and trans, but still we can’t help but give them a mocking stare and we can’t keep from whispering judgment against them.
When someone separates from their spouse, they are likely haunted by it for the rest of their lives. They are going to blame themselves for the failure of their marriage, even when it’s clear that the other was adulterous or abusive. It takes two to tango, so they say. If your spouse looks to other men or women, it’s not entirely their fault. Maybe you aren’t so good a spouse yourself.
#6: Divorce, Like Separation and Annulment, Affects the Kids
Whether a couple goes through annulment, legal separation or divorce, their children will always be the most affected. Some divorce supporters argue that the Bill ensures financial support for the children, and even the spouse, but it doesn’t provide anything to safeguard the mental and emotional aspects of the people involved. When a couple separates, it leads to a broken home or broken family, and not many children are able to cope with this.
#5: It’s an Easy Way Out for Quitters
It’s always easier and faster to give up. The reason why there’s so many divorced couples and broken families (outside the Philippines, that is) is because getting a divorce is easy peasy, sometimes a no-brainer. There’s even such thing as do-it-yourself divorce. Those who remain faithful and intact since the wedding are of course never perfect couples or families, and the grounds of divorce, other than criminal acts, are entirely normal things that couples experience in a marriage.
Irreconcilable differences? Incompatibility? Why the heck did two people married in the first place? Once divorce is legal in the Philippines, and made quick and affordable, too – then couples having problems can simply get a divorce because it’s the easiest option.
#4: It’s not Actually the Easiest Way Out
As said in #5, IF divorce is legalized, and made quick and affordable . . . You see, there lies the problem. Statistics say that 2 out of 10 Filipino families are poor and 1 out of 10 can’t buy food. How many of these impoverished Pinoys can afford divorce when they need it? Those in the middle class, can they afford divorce when their marriages go downhill?
Now, we may have the money to go through divorce, btu after that, there’s still child and spousal support to pay. Can we really afford it? There’s so much talk about legalizing divorce, but it may be just another law that only the rich and famous can enjoy.
#3: We are Christians Through and Through
We can’t accept divorce simply because it’s against our Christian beliefs. Only death can ever make us free from our marriage vows. You know, the phrase that goes, “till death do us part.” We could say that the Philippines is the last stronghold, the last line of defence against those who don’t uphold the sanctity of marriage, and it is our duty as Christians to fight for that belief.
#2: Divorce Can’t Curb Domestic Abuse
The Divorce Bill seeks to protect women and children from abusive husbands or fathers, one report said. But are countries where divorce is legal free from domestic abuse? We don’t think so, and so do statistics reports.
In the Philippines, 19 people fall victims of marital violence EVERY DAY. In the US, 20 people fall victims of intimate partner violence EVERY MINUTE (that’s 28,800 every day!). While the US has greater population (318.9 million Americans vs 98.39 million Filipinos) and better documentation, still it’s alarming to learn the stats of domestic violence there.
It’s been said that when an abused spouse leaves their partner, the still end up with an equally or more abusive new partner. History can repeat itself because we never learn. We elect and re-elect corrupt politicians, don’t we? So it won’t be surprising for divorced Filipinos to end up with someone bad or worse.
#1: It Doesn’t Guarantee a Happy Second Chance
A Chicago study revealed “divorce has lingering, detrimental impact on health that even remarriage cannot fully repair.” The study added that remarrying only makes matter worse health-wise since those who remarry “had 12% more chronic health conditions than those continuously married, which was slightly less than the 20% for the divorced or widowed who did not remarry. According to Researcher Dr. Linda Waite, a sociologist at the University of Chicago, during divorce or widowhood, income drops and stress develops, affecting a person’s health.
Aside from alarming health issues, divorce doesn’t really give people a guarantee to a happy marriage the next time around. Statistics showed a progressive increase in divorce rates where there’s 50% chance of divorce at the first marriage, 67% at the second marriage, and 73% at the third. Another factsheet disclosed that 60% of those who remarried end up re-divorced.
What does this mean? This means that divorce is no guarantee for getting a clean slate and finding a lifetime partner. As Pinoys would say, “walang forever” (there’s no forever).
This could be because some people remarry “on the rebound” and are not entirely ready for another committed relationship. In another note, those who remarry have unrealistic expectations and will have to face several issues such as caring for stepchildren, relating with a new set of in-laws, etc.
This is our take on why we Do Not need divorce here in the Philippines. Why, we want to curb domestic abuse, protect the children, and have another shot at marriage? Divorce may not be the elixir we need, and there’s a risk that it may even make matters worse. Do you agree?