On August 17, 2021, the Philippine government announced that a bill proposing the legalization of divorce in the Philippines had been approved by the Committee on Population and Family Relations of the House of Representatives.
According to the announcement, the Philippines and the Vatican are currently the only two sovereign states in the world that still prohibit divorce. The announcement also explained that the approved bill includes the following grounds that may be invoked for filing for divorce:
- Separation of the spouses for at least five years at the time the petition for divorce is filed.
- Gender reassignment surgery or transitions from one sex to another by one of the spouses.
- Irreconcilable marital differences.
- Domestic or marital abuse.
- A divorce decree obtained abroad by one of the spouses.
Opponents of this initiative include House Deputy Speaker Bro. Eddie Villanueva, who has stated that divorce will offer couples “an expressway out of marriage” that “will diminish the institution into a simplistic contractual relationship bereft of its pure meaning and call for lasting commitment. Injecting absolute divorce in the society is a sure formula for raising fatherless and motherless Filipino children.”
Rep. Lito Atienza also opposes the bill. He believes the measure is unconstitutional and vowed to challenge it in the Supreme Court if it passes, because the Philippine Constitution provides that marriage is an inviolable social institution and the foundation of the family, and thus must be protected by the state.
Reportedly, bills on divorce were filed in previous legislative sessions but have not been passed into law. The legislative proposal that was just approved has the backing of the speaker of the House, according to Representative Edcel Lagman, a supporter of the recently approved bill.
The Committee on Population and Family Relations will refer the approved bill to the House plenary for further analysis.