Senators make their stand on divorce

August 8, 2019 - 9:21 AM
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Senator Tito Sotto
Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III seen banging a gavel. (The STAR/Geremy Pintolo/File photo)
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As Senators Risa Hontiveros and Pia Cayetano push for the passage of absolute divorce in the legislature, some lawmakers in the upper chamber expressed their concerns and concurrence on the matter.

Hontiveros on Monday met with divorce advocates to step up efforts to pass the legislative measure, claiming it is a “historic fight” that aims to “free Filipinos from abusive, loveless and unhappy marriages.”

“I believe in and support the institution of marriage. I myself was happily married. However, I also believe that Filipinos, especially women and their children have the right to second chances to turn the page and live good and happy lives. This measure is for them,” she said.

Hontiveros refiled the absolute divorce bill on July 10 following its languishment at the committee level in the 17th Congress.

Cayetano, meanwhile, said that she has no intentions of disrespecting any religious belief or organization with the proposed measure.

“What I always reiterate, for those who are against it, you don’t have to avail of it. For those who are against it, in your own church, in your own religious organization, you can continue to believe what you want to believe. That is your supreme right,” she said.

“And never ko po aapakan or never ko… Wala ho akong karapatan na kwestyunin ang paniniwala ng mga tao,” Cayetano continued.

She also refiled her own version of the legislative measure at the upper chamber after it was rejected in the 17th Congress.

Meanwhile, some of their colleagues have already expressed their own opinions following its renewed filings.

Tito Sotto

The senate president, whose spouse is “70-30” in favor of divorce, said that the proposed measure might gain more support in the upper chamber if it is referred as the “dissolution of marriage” instead.

“There is a problem on the word divorce. Karamihan sa amin eh mas madali kung ang pag-uusapan natin eh ‘yung dissolution of marriage. In other words, it is an upgraded annulment law,” he said.

“There’s more probability or possibility of support if it is not called divorce or if we’re not talking of divorce but we’re talking of dissolution of marriage,” Sotto added.

Joel Villanueva

Villanueva strongly opposed the measure but mentioned that he will support “equal access” to annulment.

“Divorce? Over my dead body,” he exclaimed in response to the bill’s renewed filings.

He also defended his stance, believing that marriage is “a sacred thing.”

“We should not be embracing this kind of culture. Marriage is such a sacred thing. We believe that we shouldn’t allow people to be separated. But of course, there are exemptions and there is a way to go over it which is annulment,” Villanueva said.

Cynthia Villar

For Villar, it is not yet “time” to pass the measure and cited that there are certain sectors who still feel strongly against it.

“Kasi we’re a predominantly Catholic country. Medyo ‘di ba ayaw ‘yan ng Simbahan, madaming gulo. But I think it will be filed every Congress and there will come a time that we will pass it,” she said.

“But I don’t think this is the time that we will be able to pass it. It’s a matter of adjusting the mind of the people,” Villar added.

Miguel Zubiri

The senate majority leader said that he does not want an “American style” of divorce in the country where he claims partners can be frequently changed.

“Ayoko lang mangyari na parang American style divorce na parang Las Vegas,” he shared.

“Ikakasal ka in front of Elvis Presley mamaya-maya divorce kaagad tapos kasal ulit ng panibagong girlfriend, divorce kaagad. Ayoko ng medyo dysfunctional ang dating ng concept of marriage,” Zubiri added.

However, he mentioned that his colleagues are pushing for a more effective annulment process in the country.

Grace Poe

Poe, who previously opposed the measure, expressed her support over its passage and reasoned that it would help aggrieved women in their marriages.

“Subalit sa ngayon, ‘pag nakikita ko na rin na marami sa ating mga kababaihan ang medyo naagrabyado at saka hindi makapagsimula muli sa kanilang buhay, parang naiisip ko na rin na siguro maganda na ngang pag-usapan ‘yan, napapanahon na,” she said.

However, she added that she does not want it to be “abused” by Filipinos.

Koko Pimentel 

Pimentel, whose marriage to a beauty queen was annulled last year, said that he is for the legalization of divorce as long as a different term is used.

“If what we’re after is a remedy to a married couple with irreconcilable differences, let us look for this remedy. But [let’s] give it another name. I would be open to that. For example, dissolution of marriage,” he said.

Similar to Zubiri, Pimentel mentioned that he does not want the Philippines to adopt an American style of divorce.

Ping Lacson

Lacson supports the divorce bill as long as it only allows a person to attain it “once in a lifetime.”

“You err once, make amends; you err twice, you deserve to suffer,” he said.

According to him, he would file a proposal where the filer would not be allowed to remarry while the one who did not do so will have a chance to marry again.

“The former will think a million times before he or she files for divorce since you won’t be able to marry if you were the one who filed for divorce and it was granted. We don’t want to cheapen also the importance of marriage,” Lacson said.

Lacson also mentioned that he is willing to listen to what the Filipinos think, regardless of whether the opinion is “sensible or not.”

Bato dela Rosa

The former top cop echoed Lacson’s sentiments, saying he would only support the measure if it gives the individual singular chance to file.

“Susuportahan ko ang plano ni Sen. Lacson na ganon nga, isang beses ka lang. Okay lang magkamali ka ng isang beses. Sa pangalawang beses ka magkakamali, sinasadya mo na ‘yan,” he said.

Dela Rosa previously opposed the bill out of concern for the children’s welfare.