Albay First District Rep. Edcel Lagman. Photo from House of Representatives of the Philippines
A consolidated substitute bill reinstating absolute divorce in the Philippines was approved on Thursday, March 2, 2023, by a technical working group (TWG) led by Albay First District Rep. Edcel Lagman.
“I am elated to report that the Philippines is at the threshold of joining the community of nations upholding the universality of divorce,” Lagman said in a statement on Friday.
House Bills 78, 1021, 1593, 2593, 3843, 3885, 4957 and 4998, which seek to reinstate divorce as a mode of dissolving marriages and strengthening the civil effects of Church annulment, were previously approved in principle by the House Committee on Population and Family Relations, which is headed by Isabela Third District Rep. Ian Paul Dy.
Lagman said divorce should only be used in extreme instances for couples who have toxic and irrevocably damaged relationships.
He noted that different countries’ regulations on absolute divorce varied in their liberality.
Lagman’s House Bill (HB) 78 is identical to the comprehensive measure introduced in the 17th Congress and passed on third and final reading.
Negros Occidental Fourth District Rep. Juliet Marie Ferrer, co-author of HB 78, urged the immediate passage of the bill, asserting that couples should have the “less expensive and less burdensome” option of divorce.
The following amendments were unanimously adopted and included in HB 78 and which Lagman prepared and served as the basis for TWG deliberations: (1) increase the length of spousal support; (2) increase the penalty of a fine for colluding spouses; (3) allow joint petitions where grounds for divorce are subject to summary proceedings; (4) decrease the cooling-off period from six months to sixty days; (5) make the right to file a divorce petition prescribe ten (10) years from the occurrence of the cause for divorce or from the effectivity of the Absolute Divorce Act; and (6) appoint an administrator to manage the conjugal property or the absolute community of property during the pendency of divorce proceedings.
The substitute bill from the TWG now just has to receive final approval by the mother committee, which is led by Dy, before it can be endorsed to the plenary.