Yes, you read the title correctly. The news is that it is possible that there will be a divorce.
Oh, wait. What? You think that Feyma and I are getting divorced?
No, not at all! Ha ha… we have been married for nearly 21 years already, and I don’t foresee any divorce in the works.
What I am talking about is that the Philippines is considering implementing a divorce law.
Currently, there is no divorce in the Philippines. In fact, there are only two countries in the world where divorce is not available, the Philippines and the Vatican. Until about a week ago, divorce also was not allowed in Malta, but Malta now has divorce legally in the country. So, it would seem that the Philippines is one of the last hold outs when it comes to divorce.
It would seem that this is a tough year for the Philippines and it’s relationship with the Catholic Church. There have been two major issues that are being considered in the Philippines, both of which are strongly opposed by the Catholic Church – The Reproductive Health Bill and the Divorce Bill. The Reproductive Health bill deals with the availability and teaching of birth control, so the Church strongly opposes that. The Divorce Bill has yet to be debated at all, but it would seem that the Church will oppose that as strongly as it has the RH bill.
Personally, I feel that the Philippines should change the law to allow for divorce. I am not in favor of divorce, but the fact is that there is already de facto divorce in the country anyway. There are actually two ways that “divorce” is already going on in the Philippines. Firstly, and the most common, is that couples simple separate, and each person goes on to live with other partners. Secondly, annulment is widely used, although it is very difficult, expensive and time consuming to obtain. Now, mind you, I am not talking about an annulment through the Church, I am talking about an annulment through the court system of the Philippine Government.
According to the Social Weather Station (SWS), which is the major polling company in the Philippines (similar to Gallup in the USA), the Philippine public is moving in the direction of supporting divorce in the country. In 2005, SWS did polling to determine the feelings of Filipinos on the issue of divorce. At that time, 44% of those questions were anti-divorce. 43% were in favor of divorce, with the balance undecided on the issue. In recent polling by the SWS, a majority of Filipinos in all regions of the country are now in favor of enacting divorce laws. One interesting point is that the upper classes of Filipino Society are still anti-divorce. Why do you think that would be? Well, to me, it is obviously that it is because annulments are expensive, but the upper classes can afford annulments, and thus are already happy with the option in place.
So, where does President Aquino stand on this issue? Well, before we look at that, let’s see how Aquino stood on the RH Bill. Originally, Aquino supported the Reproductive Health bill. However, he then withdrew his support. Now, he is somewhere in the middle, saying some supportive things, but refusing to fully back the proposal. On the question of divorce, Aquino has come out and said that his Administration will not support the legalization of divorce “at this time.” Perhaps he is watching to see which direction the wind will blow on the issue before making a final declaration of his standing on the issue. The Aquino family has always been very staunchly Catholic, so it is interesting to watch President Aquino’s stands on these Church related issues.
So, for me, I believe that divorce should be legalized in the Philippines. Couples are separating already, or getting annulments when possible. The fact is that the annulment process has become de facto divorce anyway, but it is very difficult for the poor to obtain annulments due to the high price of doing so. So, because of that, I just think that divorce is a practical thing that should happen in the Philippines. It looks like after Malta’s acceptance of legal divorce recently, this issue is now coming to the forefront in the Philippines. It will be interesting to see how it turns out. My prediction is that we won’t see a divorce law prevail this year, but it appears that the country is moving in that direction, and we likely will see it happen in the next few years.