Alvarez to convince PRRD to back divorce bill

MANILA House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez expressed optimism on Tuesday that President Rodrigo R. Duterte's objection to a proposed legislation legalizing divorce could be resolved and eventually gain his support.

In a press conference, Alvarez, as principal author of the divorce bill, said he is ready to explain to the President the bill's provisions to dispel his apprehension that it would negatively affect children of separated spouses.

"Well, yung concern naman ni Presidente, maganda, yung tungkol sa mga bata. Ngayon, kung kinakailangang magpaliwanag kami, lalung-lalo na yung mga principal sponsors at saka yung committee na concern. Matagal po na napag-usapan ito at naiayos nang maganda ng committee para ma-ensure yung welfare ng mga bata, (Well, the concern of the President about the children is good. Now, if we, particularly the principal sponsors and the committee concerned, we have to explain to him that this issue has long been discussed to ensure the welfare of the kids, [then we would])," Alvarez said.

"Yes naman, kasi si Presidente naman keeps an open mind, pero siyempre kailangan dumaan muna sa Senado yan bago natin idudulog kay Pangulo(Yes [I am optimistic] because the President keeps an open mind. But of course, [the bill] has to pass through the Senate before it is presented to the President)," he added.

On Monday, House Bill 7303, which seeks to institutionalize absolute divorce and dissolution of marriage in the Philippines, was approved on third and final reading with a vote of 134-57. Only two lawmakers abstained from voting.

HB 7303, otherwise known as the Absolute Divorce Act of 2018", aims to ensure that the proceedings for the grant of absolute divorce shall be affordable, efficient and inexpensive, especially for indigent litigants or petitioners.

The grounds for absolute divorce are the existing grounds for legal separation and annulment of marriage.

A possible ground also for absolute divorce is the couple's separation for at least five years.

Other valid grounds include psychological incapacity of either spouse, irreconcilable marital differences, or a gender reassignment surgery of either spouse.

It also provides for a mandatory six-month "cooling-off period" between the time a petition is filed and when the court actually starts working on the case. This allows the court to exercise all efforts to reunite and reconcile the parties.

Despite the pendency of a petition for absolute divorce or the issuance of a decree of absolute divorce, reconciliation of the spouses shall be effectuated by either terminating the divorce proceedings or recalling the decree of divorce.

The bill penalizes spouses who are guilty of collusion with a five-year jail term and a fine of PHP200,000. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency