Opposition: Go easy on Church, be ‘deliberate’ about divorce bill

Members of the House opposition bloc appealed to their colleagues on Wednesday to “take it easy” on the Roman Catholic Church and not rush the divorce bill at the lower chamber. At a press briefing, House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez said House Bill 1799, which allows couples legally separated for two years to file a petition for divorce, should be junked because it “defies morals.” “It [Marriage] takes two to tango. Hindi lang ito para sa sarili mo, kundi pati ‘yung partner mo na naniniwala sa ‘yo kaya nga nagpakasal sa ‘yo. Tapos kung may makita ka na mas magaling-galing, gusto mong i-divorce na?” Suarez said. The opposition leader made this statement after House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte reiterated his support for the divorce bill and stated the possibility of legislating it during the next Congress. Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, who Suarez called “the next minority leader,” meanwhile said that divorce is a “very personal and subjective issue” that the House needs to discuss thoroughly. “This is a very serious matter. Let’s not just use our political momentum and let’s be deliberate about it,” Romualdez said at the same press briefing. The Philippines, a predominantly Roman Catholic state, is the only country in the world that has not yet legalized divorce. The House version of the divorce bill is currently pending at the committee level. ‘Church taking a beating’ Romualdez likewise said that the Roman Catholic Church, which opposes divorce, “has already taken a beating” after the House passed the controversial reproductive health (RH) bill. “It’s a little bit ironic because these come at a time when we just got a new saint and a new cardinal. We had a lot of blessings. It would be a little too much after the RH bill. Let’s take it easy. There’s some humanity involved here,” he said. He added that the legal and moral aspects of divorce should be carefully considered before passing a measure that will legalize it. “On a legal aspect, it’s a contract. Any contract must be respected and there are terms and conditions which each party should respect. It will be best to make it not so easy to get out of your obligations to one another. If you make it too easy, maybe a marriage will be of no moment any longer,” he said. “We have to see our existing laws and our culture. We should be very deliberate about it because it strikes at our conscience again,” he added. Suarez, for his part, said the effects of divorce on children should also be taken into account. “The difficulty of having that law, ang unang magsusuffer ang mga bata e. ‘Yung dislocation of the children, napakabigat. ‘Yung culture natin of closeness, tatamaan talaga,” he said. Earlier in the day, Malacañang said the divorce bill is “not on its radar.” President Benigno Aquino III, the country’s first bachelor chief executive, had said that "divorce is a no-no,” but supported moves to allow legally separated couples to remarry. — BM, GMA News

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