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Divorce bill hurdles House 2nd reading

MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives approved on second reading on Wednesday several pieces of legislation, including the controversial absolute divorce bill that the Catholic Church has vehemently opposed for decades.

House Bill 9349, principally authored by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, was overwhelmingly approved via voice voting.

The measure allows absolute divorce as an alternative mode of dissolving an irreparably broken or dysfunctional marriage. It provides limited grounds and well-defined judicial procedures for divorce and aims to save children from the pain, stress and agony brought about by their parents’ marital clashes or irreconcilable differences.

It also allows divorced spouses the right to marry again for another chance at marital bliss.

Under the bill, troubled couples may file a petition for absolute divorce using the following grounds: 1) legal separation under Article 55 of the Family Code of the Philippines, as modified; 2) annulment of marriage under Article 45 of the Family Code of the Philippines, as modified; 3) separation in-fact of the spouses for at least five years at the time the petition for absolute divorce is filed and reconciliation is highly improbable; 4) psychological incapacity as provided in Article 36 of the Family Code of the Philippines; 5) irreconcilable differences; and 6) domestic or marital abuse to include acts under Republic Act 9262 (Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004).

But if Tagbilaran Bishop Alberto Uy would have his way, he would rather have Congress push policies and programs that would strengthen marriage and families.

Uy stressed that divorce weakens the fabric of society and contributes to the erosion of moral values.

“I urge members of Congress to reconsider the proposed divorce bill and instead focus on promoting policies and programs that support marriage, strengthen families, and protect the well-being of all members of society,” Uy said in an interview over the church-run Radio Veritas.

The bishop argued that a “society that values strong, stable families is a thriving society. Divorce weakens the fabric of society by eroding the foundation of the family unit. It leads to