Philippines: Another Step Towards Legalizing Divorce

March 02, 2020

The Church and Catholic associations in defense of the family have reacted sharply to the approval by the competent parliamentary committee of a proposal to change the law in order to make divorce legal. A battle that has only just begun.

Will the Philippines be the last country on the planet—apart from the Holy See—to legalize divorce? An important step has just been taken in this direction on February 5, 2020.

The Parliamentary Commission—with the support of most of the political class—has indeed approved a bill in three parts, giving a legal framework to divorce. The project will soon be submitted to the Chambers for examination.

“I was surprised at the haste with which the Commission adopted the bill,” said Fr. Jérôme Secillano, secretary of the Philippine Conference of Bishops, who expected “that deliberations and discussions would be carried out on such a measure.”

The Catholic associations which defend the indissolubility of marriage and the protection of the family have also stepped up to the plate: “the Philippine Congress must act to strengthen the family and not to weaken it,” deplored the “Laiko Forum,” a federation which brings together several movements.

Since 1999, legislation to decriminalize divorce have been regularly filed in the Philippine Parliament. The most recent dates back to 2019: the House of Representatives adopted the bill at third reading, but the Senate rejected it.

Jenlyen Passion, a mother involved in the public sphere, summarizes the feeling of many Catholic activists with the Fides agency: “Marriage is a sacrament that cannot be dissolved. What lawmakers are currently planning, the legalization of divorce, is a project that derives from the influence of secular values ​​and we will fight it.”