THE DIVORCE BILL
Introduction of Divorce Bill
With Malta’s recantation of its long-held Catholic views on marriage, all eyes now turn to the Philippines as the last nation, apart from the Vatican, that disallows divorce. At the onset, the institution of divorce to the Philippines appears to be a simple issue of whether or not it is now opportune for it to finally be introduced as an additional remedy to the dissolution of an intolerable union between a husband and wife.
With legal separation unable to grant freedom to remarry and with annulment being viewed as anti-poor, being both too time-consuming and too expensive to procure, proponents of the bill perceive divorce as a timely option that guarantees the full respect of human rights, particularly those of women and children who have endured inequalities, abuses and violence in marriage as well as a means of helping victims of failed and irreparable marriages to eventually find peace and self-fulfilment.
Prevalent arguments of the opponents of the bill, however, revolve around the moral, spiritual and social grounds – citing divorce as a mechanism that would ultimately weaken personal values on the institution of marriage and that would usher in a society of men and women oriented to the freedom of conditional marriage. Opponents of the bill infer that, with divorce being presented as a liberating instrument to intolerable unions, such presentation, in effect, would be culpable to the formation of an entire society of individuals who view marriage as a loss of freedom, and so, would find marriage as either a temporary union that can be dissolved the moment either party is unhappy or as a non-essential in society that can be replaced by such unions as cohabitation.
Conversely, upon further examination, the issue of whether or not divorce should now be introduced to Philippine society is not as clear-cut as many proponents and opponents of the bill have made us to believe. The following are elements imperative to the consideration of whether or not it is indeed time to institute divorce in our society:
The Right Perspective
In as much as marriage is not as simple as the legal union between two individuals, divorce too, is not as unelaborate as the termination of a lawful union. In the issue of whether or not divorce ought to be introduced to our society, perspective plays a crucial role in the evaluation of the validity of the proposed bill.
Hence, it is absurd to even ask whether or not the safety and well-being of emotionally and physically battered women and children carry weight because they most assuredly do. In the same vein, it would also be pointless to debate whether the moral, spiritual and social implications of divorce are significant because they very indisputably are.
What we must consider is this: are we asking the right questions? Since both proponents and opponents of the bill raise compelling arguments, what we ought to be asking are not about the validity of their arguments but the weight, scope and implication of those same arguments. Which is a heavier burden for society to carry: failed marriages or a changed orientation about the nature of marriage? Which has bigger ramifications to present and future unions: the great good that the second chance given to victims of disastrous marriages brings or the immense wrong it does to the very perception, conditioning and orientation of marriage as an institution? Which has greater implications: the moral and spiritual difficulties that troubled marriages bring or the moral and spiritual complications that the introduction of divorce brings?
The Separations Involved
Contrary to how society has been conditioned to believe, divorce does not begin and end with the severing of legal ties between husband and wife but so much more; it involves:
Emotional separation – divorce necessitates an abandoning of an individual’s feelings about the marriage – disenchantment,...
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