Author of Reproductive Health Law files bill seeking to legalize divorce

  • Rep. Edcel Lagman files bill that would legalize divorce
  • The Philippines is the only country aside from the Vatican that does not yet recognize divorce
  • Lagman’s bill emphasized that the divorce bill would “liberate” women from abusive relationships

Just a few days after the beginning of the new administration, Albay Representative Edcel Lagman, who authored the controversial Reproductive Health Law, has revived discussion about the legalization of divorce by filing a bill that seeks to institutionalize “absolute divorce.”

Lagman describes House Bill 116 as a “pro-woman” piece of legislation, that would provide “merciful liberation of the hapless wife from a long-dead marriage.”

“While most marriages are supposed to be solemnized in heaven, the reality is many marriages plummet into hell, in irremediable breakdown, spousal abuse, marital infidelity and psychological incapacity, among others, which bedevil marriages,” Lagman told InterAksyon.

Currently, the Philippines is the only nation aside from the Vatican, which does not recognize divorce. Opposition from the Catholic Church, which has a relatively strong influence in the country, is believed to be a major roadblock for the legalization of divorce.

The Catholic Church also opposed the Reproductive Health Law, which allowed the distribution of contraceptives and mandated age-appropriate sex education in the curriculum.

However, in filing House Bill 116, Lagman emphasized the need to grant women and children protection from abuses that arise out of abusive relationships.

“While the State continues to protect and preserve marriage as a social institution, it gives the opportunity to spouses in irremediably failed marriages to secure an absolute divorce decree under limited grounds and well-defined procedures to avoid abuse, save the children from the pain and stress of their parents’ marital clashes, and grant the divorced spouses the right to marry again for another chance to achieve marital bliss,” the Congressman wrote in his explanatory note.

The measure also sets out provisions to make divorce proceedings inexpensive and affordable for the poor.