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PHL set to become only nation without divorce after Malta passes vote
In The Press Posted on May 29th, 2011.
Source:Philippine Online Chronicles
The Philippines will be the only place in the world where couples who exchange “I do"s must remain legally bound for the rest of their lives, whether in bliss or misery, till death do they part.
This is after the staunchly Catholic Malta voted last Sunday in favor of a referendum seeking the introduction of divorce to this tiny Mediterranean island country, leaving the Philippines as the only “divorce-free country” in the world. According to a Reuters article that appeared on GMANews.tv, the island state of 400,000 people backed the referendum by a margin of 52 to 54 percent.
When the results were made public, the divorce movement declared victory while the anti-divorce movement conceded. Malta's Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi said in a video statement on Sunday: “The referendum outcome is not the one I wished for, but the will of the majority will be respected and parliament will enact legislation for the introduction of divorce."
The vote was seen as a test of the influence of the Roman Catholic Church in a country where 72 percent of people say they go to Mass on Sundays and nearly all marriages are held at the altar.
That figure is lower than the 83 percent of the Philippine population registered as baptized Catholics, with 68 percent attending Catholic Mass weekly. But with such recent issues as the Reproductive Health Bill polarizing the public and challenging the separation between Church and State, the predominantly Catholic republic may be on its way to “divorcing” its blind allegiance and faithful ties with the Church.
This will be addressed by House Bill No. 1799 or the “Divorce Bill”, filed by party-list group Gabriela and up next for Congress. Gabriela representative Luz Ilagan insisted that their bill is different from the Las Vegas quickie divorce model.
The bill's proposed grounds for filing a petition for divorce are listed by GMANews.tv:
"1. (The) petitioner has been separated de facto (in fact) from his or her spouse for at least five years at the time of the filing of the petition and reconciliation is highly improbable;
2. (The) petitioner has been legally separated from his or her spouse for at least two years at the time of the filing of the petition and reconciliation is highly improbable;
3. When the spouses suffer from irreconcilable differences that have caused the irreparable breakdown of the marriage;
4. When one or both spouses are psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations; and
5. Any of the grounds for legal separation that has caused the irreparable breakdown of the marriage."
President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, himself a bachelor at 51 years old and currently on a dating spree, has expressed his support for the RH Bill, but has shown disapproval for the Divorce Bill. Other lawmakers such as Buhay party-list Rep. Irwin Tieng have also voiced their opposition.
Just like the RH Bill, the Divorce Bill has been pending in the House for at least 13 years. It is likewise expected to rouse debate in the Lower House, with a scheduled hearing by the Committee on Revision of Laws on Wednesday, as tweeted by Rep. Ilagan.
According to abs-cbn.News.com, a divorce bill was first introduced during the 11th Congress—right about the same time the RH Bill was also introduced for the 1st time in post-1986 Congresses. Rep. Ilagan filed her measures last July 2010 while Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez filed a similar bill last March.
Ilagan said in a statement emailed to reporters: “Let us not keep our country in the dark ages. I appeal to my colleagues in Congress to let the legislative mill run its course on the Divorce bill without further delay and give Filipino couples in irreparable and unhappy marriages this option.”