Despite his wife, veteran actress Helen Gamboa, and two of their daughters favoring divorce, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Tuesday he would not waver in his opposition to divorce.
“Not yet. We will still study it,” stressed Sotto when sought for his comment on reports that three members of his own family were supportive of the divorce bill being pushed by Congress.
“Ang Bible nga mismo may debate sa divorce, Senate pa? (The Bible itself had opposing views on divorce, what about the Senate?)” said Sotto in an interview over dzMM.
He disclosed that his children had been telling him that divorce should have been recognized in the country a long time ago.
Voting 134- 57, the House of Representatives under the previous Congress passed on third and final reading House Bill 7303 or the absolute divorce bill despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s objection to the bill, alarmed by its adverse impact on children.
The divorce under consideration is for the Christian members of the population of 106 million since divorce is permitted among the Filipino Muslims.
Senator Manny Pacquiao, a born-again Christian pastor, has also objected to the divorce bill.
While acknowledging failed marriages, Pacquiao stressed it was not the only solution as the country had an annulment process for marriages.
“We already have an annulment process, why is there a need to pass divorce?”
Pacquiao added it would be better “if we find ways to make the annulment process shorter.”
Senator Risa Hontiveros refiled the bill allowing absolute divorce in the country just last July 10.
In refiling the billl, Hontiveros noted that “it is our duty to protect the well-being and quality of life of our people, especially our women.”
She further explained: “They (women), together with their children, deserve not only a second chance but all the chances available in this world to find true and meaningful relationships and build nurturing families.”
She believes this protection to be a function of the state since “it is also duty-bound to promote and protect the well-being of its citizens.
She added: “It is a duty that should extend to circumstances whereby this well-being is being compromised by the inability to break free from irremediably broken marriages and start anew in healthier family and living arrangements.”
The Divorce Act of 2019 aims to remove the Philippines from the short list of countries where divorce is not an option (the only other state being Vatican City). It was originally filed in January 2019 but was not given due attention in Congress, possibly due to the high volume of pending bills.
Under the bill, grounds for divorce include “psychological incapacity of either spouse, irreconcilable marital differences, marital rape or being separated for at least five years.
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, 1 in 4 women experienced domestic violence in 2018.