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Philippine Catholic bishops dismayed over filing of new divorce bill in Congress

Philippine Catholic bishops expressed dismay over the filing of another bill in Congress proposing to legalize divorce in the country.

“It’s unfortunate that some legislators would rather focus on breaking marriages than fixing them or strengthening marital bond,” said Father Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of the public affairs committee of the bishops’ conference.

Filed by Albay Representative Edcel Lagman, the proposed “Absolute Divorce Act” aims to provide absolute divorce for “irremediably broken” marriages with “affordable, expeditious, and inexpensive” court proceedings.

“To think that Filipinos are embroiled in much bigger problems, the likes of Lagman are busy advancing their irrational advocacies instead of legislating policies that will thumb down the negative impacts of unrelenting oil price increase, inflation, fare hike, unemployment and COVID-19,” said Father Secillano in an interview over Church-run Radio Veritas 846.

The priest said the “unreasonable penchant of these legislators to the divorce bill while we are reeling from economic devastation tells me that it’s no longer about helping Filipinos rise up from economic poverty but a matter of pride and subservience to whoever is behind this measure.”

Lagman, however, said his bill “provides for clear and categorical safeguards for the preservation and protection of marriage.”

“While the state continues to protect and preserve marriage as a social institution and as the foundation of the family, shattered marriages beyond rehabilitation happen due to human failings and frailties,” he said.

The legislator filed versions of the measure in previous sessions of Congress, with a similar one passed on third reading by the House of Representatives in the 17th Congress. The Senate, however, did not act upon it.

Another version was also approved by the Committee on Population and Family Relations in the 18th Congress but was stalled in the Committee on Appropriations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. in March said there were cases in which divorce was “called for” and “it can’t really be worked out,” though it still should not be easy to get.

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