House narrowly passes divorce bill

The House of Representatives has approved a bill that legalizes absolute divorce in the Philippines. The bill, known as House Bill 9349, passed with a vote of 126-109-20 and is based on limited grounds and a well-defined judicial process.

This is the second time that a measure legalizing divorce has been passed by the House, with the first instance occurring in 2018 during the 17th Congress. The bill does not recognize “no-fault, quickie, drive-thru, email, or notarial” divorces, according to Rep. Edcel Lagman, the principal author of the bill.

Under the measure, there are specific and reasonable grounds for divorce, and the petition must undergo judicial scrutiny to prevent abuse and collusion. Lagman emphasized that divorce is not for everyone and is only an alternative remedy for those with just and valid causes.

The bill sets requirements and legal steps for couples to file a petition for absolute divorce, including establishing an irreparably broken marriage. Grounds for divorce include legal separation, annulment, separation in fact for at least five years, psychological incapacity, sex reassignment surgery, irreconcilable differences, and domestic or marital abuse.

Despite opposition from conservative groups and lawmakers, supporters of the bill argue that current options for couples to separate, like annulment, are expensive and inaccessible. The bill will now be sent to the Senate for deliberation, where it faces opposition from many members.

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