Duterte ‘no comment’ on divorce issue

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Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. made this pronouncement Monday or a week after a House of Representatives panel approved a measure institutionalizing divorce in the Philippines.

It can be recalled that in a 2016 interview, Duterte said he was against divorce since it would split the family and affect the children.

“He (Duterte) confirms he made that 2016 interview but when I asked him what his current stand is, he said ‘no comment’. He leaves it to Congress,” Roque said.

On February 21, the House committee on population and family relations approved a consolidated measure legalizing absolute divorce in the Philippines.

The substitute bill aims to ensure that the proceedings for the grant of absolute divorce shall be affordable, efficient and inexpensive, especially for indigent litigants or petitioners.

The grounds for absolute divorce are the existing grounds for legal separation and annulment of marriage.

Also, a possible ground for absolute divorce is the couple’s separation for at least five years.

Other valid grounds include psychological incapacity of either spouse, irreconcilable marital differences, or a gender reassignment surgery of either spouse.

Strengthen marriage

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez earlier allayed fears that the divorce bill would undermine the sanctity of marriage, saying it would in fact strengthen such sacrament.

“This will strengthen yung marriage dahil nga alam ng both parties na kung hindi ka umayos, hindi ba, nandiyan palagi yung possibility…yung tsansa na hiwalayan ka ng spouse mo (In fact this will strengthen the marriage because both parties know that if you don’t shape up, there’s always this possibility that the spouse would seek divorce),” Alvarez said in a radio interview.

“So it will really strengthen your marriage, kasi mag-iingat ka na kung mahal mo talaga yung tao (because you would really be careful if you really love a person),” he added.

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said divorce is an exception for irremediably broken and lost marriages, adding that the state has a continuing mandate to protect and preserve marriage as a social institution and foundation of the family.

Lagman, who chaired the technical working group which consolidated four related bills on divorce, was also the principal author and sponsor of the Reproductive Health bill.

He said the bill provides the state’s role in “strengthening marriage and family life by undertaking relevant pre-nuptial and post matrimonial programs and activities.” –PNA

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