Divorce bill unlikely to be approved in the 16th Congress – House leader

By , on June 15, 2014

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CLARK, Pampanga — A House leader here on Saturday said he has strong premonition that the controversial divorce measure that is strongly opposed by the Catholic Church is unlikely to be approved in the 16th Congress.

Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas said that there is a need to amend first the 1987 Constitution before approving the Divorce Bill because it is unconstitutional.

“As I opined in one of the hearings of a similar bill in the previous Congress, a Divorce Law could be easily challenged as unconstitutional,” Fariñas said in an interview.

Citing Article XV, Section 2 of the Constitution, Fariñas said that “Marriage, as an inviolable social institution, is the foundation of the family and shall be protected by the State.”

According to the lawmaker, it is the main obligation of the government to protect and preserve marriage as an inviolable social institution.

“So how could the State pass a law destroying or violating marriage? The Constitution has to be amended first,” Fariñas added.

Still pending in the House of Representatives for committee consideration, the Divorce Bill was being pushed by the Gabriela party-list group.

Gabriela Rep. Luz Ilagan, author of the bill, said while the Divorce Bill may be divisive from the point of view of another sector and the Catholic Church, it may not be divisive if the people understood its purpose.

“There are many failed, unhappy marriages across all Filipino classes,” she said.

The Philippines is the only country in the world that does not allow divorce.

For his part, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., said that divorce bill would not be priority in the 16th Congress or during his term.

“The divorce bill being the next priority as well as gay marriage and even abortion are all just that right now–speculation,” he said, adding, “It’s bound to be a divisive measure and it’s not going to be prioritized.”

“While a Divorce Bill has been indeed filed, my personal views on the issue as well as those of my colleagues will be irrelevant at this point because like any measure filed, it will have to go through the regular legislative process,” Belmonte said.

Meanwhile, Belmonte assured the public that the Congress will prioritize measures that would address the country’s problems.

“Divorce and same sex marriage bills are not legislative priorities as there are vital pending measures that need attention including the Bangsamoro law, the proposal to revise economic provisions in our Constitution and even the FOI as well as other measures that need to be addressed mostly aimed at moving the country ahead and affording our people with a better quality of life,” the Speaker stressed.