Gone Medieval: Philippine Family Law

That house of hypocrisy and idiocy was quick to cackle when it came across a party list group that proposed 10-year renewable marriages. The “solons” (how can they be called solons by the way when these people are anything but, wise) came out with tongues wagging, saying “no” to renewable marriage.

Proposals for renewable marriages aren’t new by the way. A Time article dating from 1971 covers the topic.

divorce will be unnecessary for marital termination—at least in Maryland—if two state legislators can persuade their colleagues to pass a newly proposed law. It calls for making marriage a three-year contract, with an option to renew every three years by the mutual consent of both partners. Any disagreements over alimony, child custody and the like would be settled by a court as they are now.

A “cyber-sermon” by Jonathan Parks also helps to understand the rationale for such a proposal:

One advantage of having a defined period for each relationship contract is that both partners know when they will sit down to examine how well this relationship has been working for both of them.

Such relationship reviews might be compared to employment reviews. When people are first employed, they often have a probationary period perhaps 6 months long after which they know their work will be examined and evaluated. If they pass that first assessment, perhaps they will have annual reviews of their work.

Renewable marriages could work on a similar schedule. The partners agree to review the benefits and burdens of their relationship as seen by each partner at a pre-determined time in the future.

If they continue to appreciate the good things that are happening between them more than they regret their problems,they will renew their marriage or relationship for another period of time, perhaps one or two years or even more years for those who are quite happy with each other.


Before there was a “renewable marriage” proposal, there was the Divorce Bill.

A detailed blog on the status of the proposal to legalize divorce in the Philippines is provided in the Philippine e-legal forum:

In 2005, party-list representative Liza Masa of Gabriela filed a divorce bill. In 2001, similar bills were filed in the Senate (Bill No. 782), introduced by Senator Rodolfo G. Biazon, and House of Representatives (Bill No. 878), introduced by Honorable Bellaflor J. Angara-Castillo. In 1999, Representative Manuel C. Ortega filed House Bill No. 6993, seeking for the legalization of divorce. This Congress (14th Congress), Gabriela again filed a bill to introduce divorce in the Philippines. Here’s the explanatory note of House Bill 3461, filed by GABRIELA Women’s Party Representatives Liza Largoza-Maza and Luzviminda Ilagan.


The bill seeks to introduce divorce in Philippine law with a strong sense of confidence that it will be used responsibly by Filipino couples. This confidence stems from the experiences of Filipino families that show that separation is usually the last resort of many Filipino couples whose marriage has failed. Cases of battered women also support this. Battered women invariably seek separation only after many years of trying to make the marriage work; separation only becomes imperative for them when they realize that it is necessary for their and their children’s survival. Divorce could actually provide protection to battered women and their children from further violence and abuse. With the predominance of the Catholic faith in the Philippines, the fear that divorce will erode personal values on marriage appears unfounded. The experience of Italy, where the Vatican is located, and Spain, two predominantly Catholic countries which practice divorce, supports this. Those countries have a low rate of divorce. Italy registers a 7% rate while Spain registers 15%. The figures reflect the strong influence of religious beliefs and culture on individuals in deciding to terminate marital relations.

President Arroyo and Cardinal Sin, however, strongly called for the rejection of the divorce bills, claiming them to be “un-Filipino, immoral, unconstitutional and a danger to the Filipino family“.

Arroyo and Sin’s pronouncements appear to be unfounded. The highlights of the explanatory note of House Bill No. 6993, in support for divorce, challenge both personalities’ notions:

Not all marriages succeed as a permanent union. An increasing number of married individuals find themselves subjected by their marriage partners to physical violence, grossly abusive conduct and other acts of or offenses that — rather than promote blissful, harmonious conjugal and family life — impair, debase or destroy the legitimate ends of the marriage relationship. The bill seeks to give spouses which are shacked by an irretrievably broken marriage the freedom to remarry and possibly succeed in attaining a stable and fulfilling family life.

Divorce is not a novel legal right. The Family Code sanctions relative divorce (a mensa et thoro). Legal separation is a recognized remedy for victims of failed marriages. Our civil laws on marriage justify and allow the separation of married individuals but does not confer them the legal right or remedy to extricate themselves from the ordeal of a broken marriage.

Divorce is not exclusive to contemporary times. Before the Spanish colonial rule in the early 16th century, absolute divorce had been widely practiced among our ancestral tribes — the Tagbanwas of Palawan, the Gadang of Nueva Vizcaya, the Sagada and Igorot of the Cordilleras, the Manobo, Bila-an and Moslems of Visayas and Mindanao islands, to name a few.

There were prior divorce laws. In 1917, Act 2710 allowed divorce on the grounds of adultery on the part of the wife and concubinage on the part of the husband. During the Japanese Occupation, a new law on absolute divorce, E.O. No. 141, was promulgated providing for ten grounds for divorce. These laws are no longer in effect.

Based on the increasing number of failed marriages which confines many of our citizens to a perpetual state of marital limbo, it has become morally and socially acceptable for many Filipinos to grant spouses of broken marriages the legal right to remarry. The present grounds for legal separation which are recognized in our society as justifiable bases for relative divorce should be re-enacted as lawful grounds for absolute divorce. In addition, it is recommended that “irreconcilable marital differences” be included in our present civil laws as a justifiable cause for absolute divorce because not all circumstances and situations that vitiate the institution of marriage could be specifically categorized and defined by our lawmakers. Spouses living in a state of irreparable marital conflict or discord should be given the opportunity to present their marital contrarieties before the courts and have such differences adjudged as substantial grounds to dissolve or sever the legal bond of marriage.

Then Came 1-ABAA

Then along came 1-ABAA. The advocate of the proposed law, women’s party list group Isa-Ako Babaeng Astig Aasenso (1-ABAA), said it plans to put forth a measure requiring couples to renew marriage every 10 years so that it would not be voided.

The proposal must have sounded so radical that “Several lawmakers on Tuesday slammed the doors on a proposal for a renewable marriage even before it reached Congress.”. This proposal isn’t even Dead on Arrival, it’s an abortion!

Ruffled Feathers, Wagging Tongues and Brown Noses

And so typical of the telenobela called Da Pinas, according to the Inquirer news article, this is what the not-so-wise Philippine solons had to say:

Speaker Prospero Nograles said he is not in favor of the proposal as it was against his Catholic beliefs.

Nueva Ecija Representative Eduardo Nonato Joson also thumbed it down, saying couples who want to get out of the marriage can resort to annulment.

Manila Representative Bienvenido Abante, a pastor, said making marriage renewable reduces it to a “mere legal contract” instead of a relationship.

“What is happening to our values? That’s what happens when people don’t believe in absolutes anymore,” Abante said.

Muntinlupa Representative Rufino Biazon said the proposal bodes danger to families.

“The proposed marriage contract expiration should be opposed because it will endanger the integrity of the ties that bind Philippine society,” Biazon said in a statement.He said marriage does not trap couples into the relationship and is not a violation of human rights because getting into it is an option for men and women.

“To give marriage an expiration is also to give families an expiration. It will be dangerous to open Philippine society to the mindset that marriages and families have a predetermined end,” he added.

Three women lawmakers also opposed the idea.

Representative Liza Maza of Gabriela party list called the proposal “absurd” and “outrageous.”

Marriage should not be treated like a rental contract that has an expiration. Marriage, according to the solon, is imbued with social responsibility that should be upheld by couples.

The proposal also goes against the provisions of the Constitution because the highest law of the land clearly advocates marriage and family. It is also anti-women because it would give men the opportunity to leave his wife after 10 years and easily find a new one, Maza said.

Fellow Gabriela party-list Representative Luz Ilagan said making marriage renewable “reduces a sacred institution to a mere business contract.

What if the woman is battered before the 10 years is over? She should be able to get out of the relationship,” she said, adding that divorce would be a better option.

The proposal ignores realities like what happens to the children, what would be their status? Will we not make it easy for the philandering men to have serial marriage? It’s not a well-thought-out proposal,” Ilagan said in a text message.

Representative Risa Hontiveros of Akbayan party list said marriage should be a lifetime contract, not something that is renewable. But she also said that the current system of annulment should make it easy especially for the abused women to get out of the relationship and ensure support for her children.

I am surprised that even the so-called progressives aren’t that progressive as well.

Let’s look at the reasons for their refusals and comment on these reasons (not necessarily to agree or disagree):

Reason 1 – Against his Catholic beliefs.

Comment: This congressman needs to be reminded of the separation of the church and state, that his Catholic beliefs should not infringe the rights of people who do not share his Catholic beliefs.

He also ought to be reminded that it is not really accurate to say that there is absolutely no divorce in the Philippines. Under Presidential Decree No. 1083, also known as the “Code of Muslim Personal Laws of the Philippines,” divorce is allowed in certain instances, but this law applies only when both parties are Muslims, or wherein only the male party is a Muslim and the marriage is solemnized in accordance with Muslim law in any part of the Philippines. For the rest of Filipinos, therefore, divorce is not available.

Reason 2 – Couples who want to get out of the marriage can resort to annulment.

Comment: The annulment process in the Philippines is so convoluted. The Philippines and Malta are the only two  remaining countries that have no legal divorce. Both are deeply Catholic. In the Philippines, like the Euro-Mediterranean city-island Malta of late modernity, the observed changes in the values of marriage and the family, the secularisation of sexuality and an increase in the incidence of unsuccessful marriages is still accompanied by an deeply entrenched Catholic family culture that resists the civil settlement of marriage failure by divorce.

Having an alternative to the labyrinthine, archaic, and expensive annulment law will allow more equitable access to legal remedies.

Reason 3 – Making marriage renewable reduces it to a “mere legal contract” instead of a relationship/Reduces a sacred institution to a mere business contract.

Comment: Uhhh.. why call the document stipulating the terms of the relationship a marriage contract if it’s not a contract? Relationships end, too by the way.

This argument has its roots in the canonical view of marriage which was prevalent in medieval times – and in the case of the Philippines, during the Spanish occupation. A study by Masha V. Antokolskaia on The Process of Modernisation of Family Law in Eastern and Western Europe: Difference in Timing, Resemblance in Substance provides valuable insights on understanding why the Philippines family law is still stuck in a rut.

The reference to sacred institutions blur the separation of church and state. The institutionalisation of marriage, the banning of concubinage and the bastardisation of children born outside wedlock can be understood within the framework of feudalism – the introduction of the feudal system with the right of succession belonging to the first-born as its centerpiece. In 11th century Europe, the horizontal, cognate family structure of Carolingian times, in which male and female heirs were equal, was replaced by the vertical, agnate family structure, in which only the male line was important and male heirs were privileged. The goal of this change was to limit the amount of heirs in order to prevent the further division of land. The restrictions of family law served the same purpose. This same structure was transplanted by the Europeans to the Philippine occupied territories.

The development of family law in Europe shows that conservatism in family law does not primarily correlate with a less developed economy, but first and foremost with the measure of abandonment of the old canonical dogmas.

This abandonment was slower in countries with a strong Church influence (such as Italy, Spain, Ireland and Greece). Even economically less developed East European countries (such as Moldova, Romania and Serbia) have a fairly modern family law, due to the radical break with the canonical concepts that was imposed by the communists.

The process of gradually abandoning the concepts of canon law was essentially the same in all European countries, and was influenced by the same liberal ideas. The general trend can be described as the gradual change from a transpersonal to a personal approach. While the ideas of the Enlightenment were mainly on the rights and freedoms of the individual as a citizen, not of the individual as a private person. The family remained in the private domain where individualism, personal freedom and equality were acknowledged much later.

The breakdown of feudalism saw the entry of personalistic views consistent with the new social order. With individualism and personal freedom invading the family, the ideas concerning its social function and its whole image changed. The family was now regarded as a union based on love, its primary purpose was now to serve the happiness of its members. This change from a transpersonal to a personalistic approach is an important transformation that has occurred in family law over the last two centuries.

The essence of transpersonalism is the sacrificing of the interests of individuals to abstract values. This attitude was typical of medieval society, but in the private sphere it has dominated well into modern times. Family law was one of its last resorts. An everyday example of the endurance of transpersonalism can be found in the words of the Dutch Minister of Justice delivered in 1947, who stated that ‘[t]he acceptance of a monogamous marriage as the socially recognised form of cohabitation of man and woman, logically brings about that a difference must be made between children in and out of wedlock . . . Not because the legislator does not have any compassion with these indeed innocent children . . . but because the interest of society as a whole in the preservation of the respect for the institution of marriage, has priority over the individual interests of those persons’. The abstract interests of society as envisaged in this purely moral judgement concerning monogamy is given priority over the interests of innocent children. That is transpersonalism pur sang. This approach, prevailing until so recently, is still based on the medieval concept of marriage, although the author himself will hardly have been aware of this link.

Reason 4 – Proposal bodes danger to families

Comment: Evalyn Ursua, former Executive Director of the Women’s Legal Bureau, feminist lawyer and advocate of women and children’s rights has a different take. She says, “I believe the harm on children is even worse when two people are at each others’ throats, obviously very unhappy, but stick together for the sake of the institution of marriage. I believe they can be better parents if they confront their issues — especially if these seem to be irreconcilable. But good parenting should not stop with marital separation or divorce. In fact, it can even be enhanced.”

The Meat of the Matter

While the renewable proposal may sound “absurd” to our solons, it sounds more absurd that we have a crisis in our family laws and our solons have done nothing to provide relief but have actually exacerbated the crisis and blurred the lines that separate church and state.

What it boils down to is this:

1. The Philippine Family Law is in shambles

2. Annulment has not provided any relief.

3. There is a need for an alternative to annulment.

4. Instead of just saying NO to renewable marriage, fix the broken family law, say YES to an alternative to annulment, LEGALIZATION OF DIVORCE is a good start!

The Million Dollar Question

Having said that, it will be worth asking the candidates the following questions:

1. What is the candidates position on divorce? Is he in favor or not in favor of divorce?

2. Will he allow his religious beliefs to dictate upon a secular matter?

P.S. Remember to demand an honest answer specially if a candidate claims to be “honest”. 😉

President Arroyo and Cardinal Sin, however, have strongly called for the rejection of the divorce bills, claiming them to be “un-Filipino, immoral, unconstitutional and a danger to the Filipino family.
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  1. Even without divorce, Filipino marriages are holding up for the wrong reasons. It’s for the money, for tradition, for society, for this and that… thus, many Filipino marriages are going into oblivion even without the divorce thing.

    I’m on a complete turnaround now from over a decade ago. Now I’m for legalizing divorce in the country. Maybe the thought of divorce being a possibility will make couples think twice before depriving their children of a complete parent set.

    Of course, there are criteria before a divorce is approved, like in annulment for the Vatican, so with that it can’t be blamed as a family destroyer.

  2. Personally I think a “renewable marriage” scheme is a bit too radical, but I see nothing wrong with a divorce law.

    The State of Utah, which was founded by Mormons and whose population is still a bit over 60% Mormon, has a divorce law much like most other states (a provision for a divorce law is not required by the US Constitution, btw) and allows no-fault divorces, even though divorce is largely prohibited by the Mormon church, and is only granted to church members under extraordinary circumstances by decision of a panel of higher church authorities — essentially, an annulment.

    The Catholic Church here, on the other hand, must resort to secular legislation (or in this case, preventing it) in order to enforce what for its members is a canonical issue. The problem, it would seem, is not in the country’s laws, but in the Church’s being able to inspire strength of devotion in its members.

    Ideally, if an option provided by law conflicts with a person’s beliefs, he has the choice not to exercise that option.

    And correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t the Islamic faith have very detailed provisions for divorce? (although it is strongly discouraged) Would not the civic prohibition of divorce in that case be a restriction on the rights of people of that faith? The same would apply to other faiths as well.

  3. A response to a similar question is provided by Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states:

    Generally speaking, divorce is not at all viewed favorably in Islam; rather it has been either condemned or discouraged unless warranted by valid reasons. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) cautioned against senseless exercise of divorce when he said, “Among lawful things, divorce is most hated by Allah.” So no one with the sound Islamic spirit and attitude must resort to divorce except in extreme and unavoidable cases, where it has been considered as legitimate in Islam. The reason for this is clear, for divorce entails dire consequences affecting families and individuals; it results in deep psychological and emotional scars, especially when children are involved.

    Because of such factors and others, Islam considers marriage a solemn contract (mithaq ghalizh) and reckons it as the duty of both parties who have entered into such contract by invoking God’s name and words, to seek to preserve it intact according to the best of their abilities. For future of humanity lies in the sound family, which is the cornerstone of society.

    Consequently, divorce has been generally frowned upon in Islam; hence it is imperative that we exhaust every possible avenue to avert the same; the steps thus recommended involve the following:

    1. Seek counsel from those who possess wisdom, experience, and knowledge and seek to solve the outstanding issues between yourselves after gaining insight and advice from them.

    2. In the event that such efforts fail, both spouses must resort to Islamic arbitration; in this arbitration one should have parties representing both sides. They should submit to abide by the decisions thus agreed upon.

    The reason for this is that often humans become so preoccupied with their temporary personal likes and dislikes that they fail to see their own destructive behaviors and weaknesses. Thus they are encouraged to seek advice and wisdom from those with experience and knowledge, who may help them to empower themselves to take charge of rectifying their behavior and attitudes.

    Having said this, divorce however, must not be considered a closed door. There are genuine cases when divorce is the only option available. Here are a few valid reasons:

    1. Physical, mental, or emotional abuse or torture. When one of the spouses becomes abusive and inflicts physical, mental, or emotional torture, and is not willing to change by taking practical measures through therapy or counseling, then it is a valid reason for seeking divorce, for the Islamic principle states, “There shall be no inflicting or receiving of harm.” Zhulm (injustice) is not tolerated in Islam, regardless of who the perpetrator is.

    2. Failure to fulfill the objectives and purposes for which marriage was initiated. This can be utter incompatibility between the partners, which may be expressed by their irreconcilable differences in temperaments, likes, and dislikes.

    3. Marital infidelity. This can be a major cause for dissolution of marriage, for marriage is built on trust and confidence. Its main purpose is to preserve the chastity and modesty of those involved. Once this foundation is eroded and undermined and there is no chance to restore the same, then divorce is the way to go.

    4. Failure of the husband to provide. When the man, who is considered the provider and maintainer of the family, fails to shoulder his responsibilities and the wife decides that she cannot continue tolerating his shirking of responsibility, this is grounds for divorce.

    Any one of the above-mentioned reasons can be considered as a valid ground for divorce in Islam. If in a legitimate case warranting a divorce a husband refuses to divorce his wife, then she is certainly justified by Islamic Law to approach the proper legal authorities to get a divorce: The judgment of divorce thus rendered by such authorities can be deemed as valid in Islam.

    Excerpted, with slight modifications, from: http://www.islam.ca

  4. Hi Chino,

    Came across this site – http://divorce.lovetoknow.com/Kids_and_Divorce – and noted this section:

    Staying Together “For the Children”

    A lot of people have heard of parents in an unhappy marriage staying together “for the sake of the children.” What is your opinion on this course of action?

    It is important for parents to understand that the way they conduct their marital relationship is the model their children are learning from and will base their future relationships. What children see and live with is what they learn to seek out and do. So, staying together in a loveless relationship can be harmful for children, as well—particularly if there is tension, anger or mistrust hanging in the air. If parents can live together amicably, and conduct their relationship in friendship, then perhaps staying together for the sake of the children has some merit. This is very rarely the case, however. Generally, children feel the tension, the animosity and the anger. This is not a healthy way to live.

    No matter what parents decide, there will be impact and repercussions upon their children. Parents have desires about the lives they want for their children. The more parents can live the life they want for their children, the more likely their children will seek out that kind of life. So, if parents want their children to have loving relationships, the most important thing they can do for them is to model a loving relationship.

  5. http://jethernandez.multiply.com/reviews/item/111

    I’d like to view things as if I am on a crossroad. Legal separation, annulment and divorce is all one and the same s,h,it to me. The argument on these three terms is the last option of the married couple to part due to “irreconcilable differences”. Let me rewind a few steps back on how significant number of married couple in the Philippines came to this point. Literature and studies point out that the Philippines has a long standing policy to send out its citizens to work abroad to fix the unemployment gap. Pinas has two sets of migrants… temporary and permanent. As we all know the former have left their spouses and their children to work temporarily and render their years of productivity in a country where they cannot become citizens. Significant number of the ones of have for abroad left f.u.c.k.e.d the nearest opposite sex that have made their genitals palpitated… those who’ve left behind have done the same thing with the kumares and kumpares. At the end of the temporary migrants’ productive years, he is left with no spouse and no savings.

    Question now is… is this divorce, annulment and legal separation s.h.i.t.s. worth debating at all when la policiya de las islas Filipinas’ policy is to send out or encourage one couple to work x number of miles away while the other one is left to take care of their children… the years that these married couple should have spent together as man and wife… pader or mader… has been devoted to phone s.e.x., cybersex, sariling sikap and dildos… what is left worst of are the children. with no father figure… the male child has only boy abunda for a role model… pag tinanong mo ang isang bata na lalaki na pumipilantik ang kamay kung nasan ang tatay nya… nasa Saudi po.

    Point is that we have more important policy issues to debate on than this s.h.i.t.s. such as industrialization and the development of our endogenous resources that includes human capital. the bishops of the roman catholic cult instead of scratching their balls in the opulence and grandeur of their palaces should instead encourage their rich patrons who are the landed rich and the moneyed class, politicians and businessmen themselves, to be conscientious enough to think of the common good…. not their common pockets.

  6. Ang lakas ng tama mo, Jet. 😛 You hit it right on the balls. The policy of sending parents abroad to work is the family destroyer. Add to that the Filipino’s tendency to look for sex instead of something better to do… there you go. Poor policy + poor culture = ruined marriages and families.

  7. we create policies EX POST FACTO… kapatid yan ni Pekto… na asawa ni Pekta… hehehehe…

    … wouldn’t it be a good thing to debate on EX-ANTE (na asawa ni Angkel) policy issues…

    Prevention is better than cure…

  8. True that – the policy of sending workers overseas is a major cause of family breakups. As the isolation and homesickness builds up, somethings gotta give.

    If the family left behind is not able to join the breadwinner – the pressures and fissures will build up.

    Fortunately for migrant workers in the USA and other Western developed economies, there is a path for reunification of families, unlike (do correct me if am wrong) KSA and the Middle Eastern countries.

    Obviously, annulment, legal, separation, and divorce are last options.

    The first two however are greatly influenced by canonical law.

    Divorce, though, is still not recognized in the Philippines. The only other countries where divorce is not legal are the other dominantly Catholic countries of Malta and.. the Vatican.

    While divorce may not be as “high” on the agenda of national industrialization – this issue related to family law hits us right at home – the basic unit of society.

    Picture a dysfunctional basic unit, replicate it to millions of households. Do you think millions of kids growing up to witness the impunity of abusive, broken, and imploded marriages will have the empathy and good nature needed from citizens? Your guess is as good as mine.

  9. Whether canonical law, sabbatical law, Mohammedan law, torahnical (kung meron man) law… or mother-in-law… alang pinagkaiba yan… parehong hiwalay in practice. Sa Pinas pre, pag di nagpakita ang mister ibig sabihin nuon… ayaw na nya kay misis kasi bungangera. Iilan lang ang sinasabing battered wives dito sa Pilipinas, its a bloated research work done by some women who have never tasted the real feeling of love and sex… mas maraming madre sa Pilipinas kesa pari. GRABEla or is it Gabriela always work on the context that men are chauvinistic pigs. Women are powerful in the Philippines… We are a MATRIARCHAL society olredi dat wen da Feminist movements from the west tried to insert themselves in da Piripino culture it hasn’t been able to get through. Look at the ratio of the television ads… almost 90 percent are female oriented. From skin whiteners to panty shields commercials… even the telenovelas… and the gay talk shows… their target audience are Filipinas. In development economics, 80 percent of the trait and behaviour of the child are acquired from the mothers. Researches also showed that men who bugbogs women have been victims of women abuses… What better proof of Pinay power do we have… CORY and GLORIA… isama mo na dyan si MIRIAM.

    Even in the parishes of the catholic cult… da most powerful are the manangs… yung tagapunas parati ng pawis ni Father… tagadala ng prutas… at tagabitbit ng krusipiks.

    Ano ang konekment? Marriage separation, divorce or annulment issues will always be a taboo topic in the real world of the Filipino matriarchal society. You have to separate the world of the Feminists from the real Pinays. It is neither the government or the church that dictates the “sanctity of marriage” thing… it is dem Pinay women on the aggregate.

  10. i agree, the bottom line boils down to hiwalayan. but ika nga, the devil is in the details.

    sa legal separation, hiwalay nga kayo, but you can’t remarry. napakabitin naman nyan. but there are those who choose that route due to religious beliefs.

    sa annulment, hiwalay nga kayo, but the law is so convoluted that you have to go through contortions – just like a non-Filipino who wants to own land in the Philippines. not only that, lalagyan pa ng stigma na you are psychologically incapacitated – dang, kaya nga gusto mo ng itigil dahil you are psychologically capacitated to see that the marriage is not working – you have nothing in common, ‘baga – nag-asawa dahil sa libog, shotgun, at kung ano pa – other than that there’s foundation for a bond. it is a win-lose proposition where one of the spouses is made to appear like a retard. there are those who para makuha na yung annulment will admit to anything. the problem is when you apply for a job – at lumabas sa records na you had a divorce because you were psychologically incapacitated – do you think a personnel manager will take a liking to a psychologically incapacitated person (kahit hindi naman)?

    thus far, divorce, as practiced worldwide – provides a more sober alternative to the convolutions and contortions of legal separation and annulment.

    Natawa nga ako duon sa comment na – “What if the woman is battered before the 10 years is over? She should be able to get out of the relationship”.

    ang nakikita lang ng mga manang yung female issue – ang lagay e, “What if THE MAN is battered/taken advantage of before the 10 years is over? He should be able to get out of the relationship”. 😀

    ang kailangan pala ng Pinas as male chauvinist movement.. 😀

  11. Sabi ng lawyer kong kaibigan… dahil battered husband daw sya… magtatayo daw sya ng unyon… ang tawag nya ay


    o di kaya’y


  12. Divorce will never be legalized in the Phils because there is annulment anyway. It’s the easiest way to go around it. Couples can pretend nothing happened even if they already have five kids. Filipinos always pretend to be good and maka-Dyos anyway so if they get an annulment instead, it’s a clean slate and they are good in the eyes of everyone. Kawawa the kids because they end up in limbo.

  13. The problem with annulment is when there is a breakdown in the marital relationship – you are locked in a loveless miserable existence.

    Perhaps, the Philippines should have more case of spouses being murdered before it gets the message.

  14. The core issue with me is that annulment is being used as a proxy for divorce. Whereas divorce ackownledges the END of a marriage that happened, annulment makes a prinouncement that a marriage never happened. So even if the marriage is dissolved because of the failure of the partnership, annulment as a resolution to this failure, in a way, whitewashes all accountability for said failure.

    In a sense, it is a principle that abdicates parties of any accountability by virtue of a pretense that failure NEVER happened instituted by state edict — a failure that one should own up to (if we go by the values and ethics of truly PROGRESSIVE societies). Of course in most personal circumstances, the learning is there. But the notion that this is a principle enshrined in Pinoy laws REFLECTS the kind of society we are. We stigmatise failure so much that we actually have laws that help us pretend that the failure NEVER HAPPENED.

    Compare that to a divorce which, is a personal record that STICKS and therefore serves as a an indelible learning notch for the average schmoe. Divorce is not the end of it all anymore than a record of bankruptcy dooms one to unrectifiable wretchedness. Divorce, like bankruptcy, is something you can MOVE ON from. Perhaps that is the issue — beyond religion — that Pinoys have with divorce (i.e. our moronic preference for the false comfort of annulment). We fail to grasp the concept of MOVING ON after a colossal failure. Rather than pick up the pieces, learn, and formulate a new strategy based on said learning, Pinoys tend to sink into an untenable LOSER MENTALITY state and spiral into a prison of pathetic small-mindedness where in the SAME things are done under the moronic “hope” that something will change.

  15. It just occurred to me that Filipinos are quite resourceful in finding a way to appear holier than thou by seeking annulments instead of a divorce. I wish they’d use their resourcefulness in more fruitful ways instead.

  16. Joe America · ·

    Fascinating discussion, Bong. I concur lock stock barrel, and restate my take on it here, with attribution to malfeasance in the home . . .

    Ilda, divorce and annulment are very different animals. Divorce treats marriage like a legal contract. If two people agree the marriage is not working out, bam, done deal, it’s over. $18.50 without attorneys. Another word for it is freedom of choice.

    Annulment treats marriage like a moral contract and views anyone who wants out as “out of the norm”, that is, immoral. So if you file, you are treated like a criminal and must prove the other spouse (often a vicious deadbeat dad) was an immoral or crazy person when the marriage was put together. It’s not an easy task and is horribly offensive (in my eyes) to abused Philippine women, suggesting they are immoral, or little better than criminals and prostitutes. They are not simply human . . . and allowed mistakes or freedom. They are bound, as slaves were chained to the ship . . . out of some misguided moral rectitude. And the abusive men are considered upright citizens . . .

    Divorce is respectful of the individual. Annulment is respectful of moral authorities such as the church.

    Jet, it seems to me the Philippines is neither matriarchal nor patriarchal, but irresponsible. Women crawl into bed mistaking the hots for love and men crawl out of bed and into the hinterlands because they can’t afford to pay for the kid and don’t want chains around their legs, preventing them from huddling about the tuba table pretending to be popular, independent macho dudes.

    Now this is not an all-encompassing national model. There are responsible Filipinos here and there. It is just a common theme. The number of deadbeat dads hereabouts is downright astounding.

    No wonder kids grow up aimless and dedicated to little but subsistence. It’s the roll model, folks, its the way you raise them . . . no dad, no responsible male direction . . .


  17. are you talking about no-fault divorce, unilateral divorce?

  18. The annulment/divorce debate seems to me like another sign of the imperialist influence of the Catholic Church in our country. Now I know what the atheists and secularists are complaining about. Perhaps putting the ultimate authority for arbitrating marriages in the country should be put in secularist authority’s, and not religious authority’s, hands.

  19. Jet, add MO to your organization’s names (Men’s Objective). lol

  20. BTW, Philippines as matriarchal society… tamo ang mga bading, sister, nagkalat eh… ang opening nga ng MRT sa Edsa e Fashion show, mader… Isang paktor pa diyan, ang ibang lalaki eh nag lalasing and gumagawa ng bata sa ibang babae… may fault both man and wipe sa problema ng pamilya… kasama na rin ang antipatikang CBCP na yan! hehehe

  21. Good point. If they stay together for the children, they should patch it up, and it’s not just to show the children that they’re not fighting. Substance over show. If they’re still fighting, they’ve got to go.

    Is it still true that the no. 1 reason for divorce in America in money? How about Pinas (for annulment)?

  22. @Joe

    I can’t pretend to know anything about divorce or annulment to be frank. I don’t intend to go through any of it. These things happen only because people jump into a relationship for the wrong reasons in the first place. I just know of people who had big weddings, the whole shebang and then six months later filed for annulment. I even know of some who have been married for ages with kids and still managed to get an annulment. As to how they obtained it, I couldn’t ask and I wasn’t really interested in researching the laws pertaining to it. I just thought, “Goodness me, there is no divorce in the country but people still find a way of getting around it, especially when you have money.” It’s only now I’m finding out that one party has to be either crazy (pretend) or has been used as a punching bag to qualify for one.

    You are right, there are so many macho-macho men in the country just lounging around the street corner while the wives tend to the little kids and juggle being a labandera or a housemaid.

  23. Those are two different things.

  24. On the topic of marriage, divorce, annulment, and separation (legal or actual), people tend to revolve around the issue of failed marriages and whether the couple should be given “the right to be happy.”

    However, many overlook the rationale behind our marriage and family laws.

    First and foremost, the protection of the institution of marriage and the family is a state policy enshrined in the constitution (Art. II, Sec. 12). In the embodiment of the will of the people, and as a sovereign act of the State, we (the sovereign Filipino people) declared that the family and the upon which it is founded marriage is as institution and resolved to protect it. We recognize the importance of the family in rearing children to be responsible and productive citizens and we recognize the importance of the youth in nation-building (Art. II, Sec. 13). Thus, a “right to be happy” of any one (or two) of the citizens cannot supersede the resolution to maintain and protect the family.

    One may argue that a unhappy couple won’t make for a good family for children to grow up in. As valid as it may sound, to say so is to be oblivious of the laws that protect children (and the spouse) from abuse and require the parents for support. In the eyes of the law (and the sovereign people who led to their creation), a complete family, despite of it being inconvenient and even unhappy, is still better than a shattered one. What the law seeks to protect in protecting the family is not “the right to be happy” of the spouses but the material and moral needs of the child – the future of the nation.

    As much as an individual has the right to choose, he must also take responsibility for his actions. To run away from one’s responsibilities and not live with the consequences of one’s actions to the prejudice of the innocent (child), cannot be allowed by the State. We cannot allow ourselves to be a nation of unprincipled cowards who run in the face of responsibility, and permit the corruption of the innocent in exchange for something as trivial as our “right to be happy.”

    It is not a religious anachronism. If we are to take a path different from the bandwagon in order to secure a noble goal and based on substantial grounds, then so be it.

  25. Catholics have the option of not practicing divorce. But do not restrict other noncatholics who want that option.

    This also highlights the need to change a constitution which has Catholicism written all over it.

    Responsibility means – facing the fact that the marriage is over, broken, zilch – and the need to move on.

    Or would you rather have spouses kill each other – choose your poison 🙂

  26. Staying together for the sake of the law – accentuates how stupid Filipino laws are.

    You cannot legislate a relationship. If it’s broken it’s over. Scrap the stupid law.

  27. If we are to take a path different from the bandwagon in order to secure a noble goal and based on substantial grounds, then so be it.

    there is nothing noble about living in a failed and broken marriage – it’s plain stupidity.

  28. pardon my ignorance jarvis, but what about couples who don’t have kids?

    or couples who are neck-deep in debt and sheer poverty that they are incapable of even feeding the kids?

    combine irreconcilable differences with additional mouths they can’t feed, equals a couple in such disharmony that puts the children at risk of being used to make money (use your imagination as to how).

  29. here’s the catholic’s church’s position:

    the more kids the better – no matter if the parents can’t afford it.

    the more kids – the more abuloy, and the more “victims” the catholic church can “take care of”.

    of course, 60% of abuloy goes to rome to pay for the pope’s popemobile and prada shoes 🙂

    not to mention the posh comfy archdiocesan bishop residences.

  30. and what about annulment? isn’t it a bit hypocritical of the catholic church to be ok with annulment using the same reasoning against divorce? or am i missing something?

    yes i noticed that the catholic church doesn’t mind the world becoming very much overpopulated. i’d bet even if earth reaches an unimaginable 60 billion in population the catholic church would still be against population control, but that may be a whole other discussion thread.

  31. I personally am against the concept of divorce. My only concern here is “discipline” and the ability to understand and stick to what you have agreed upon in a vow.

    In a marriage vow, isn’t there the part about “in sickness and health” etc etc? What happened to that? For couples looking for divorce, did you just agree to that just for the sake of getting what you want then turning back on it when things go sour?

    In regards to troubled couples, especially those involving violence and abuse, isn’t there a way to solve this? If a partner resorts to physical abuse, couldn’t that be a mental illness? And just like an illness, aren’t you as a loved one obliged to get the other cured?

    And in cases of said physical abuse, who ever said that it is permanent? Are you saying that the other will never stop? Unhappiness is just like happiness. Both are never permanent.

    The reason why I’m against divorce is that I’ve personally seen severe family cases get fixed with proper counseling AND willpower on both sides to actually see and do everything they can to fix a big problem. I come from a family of psychiatrists, and I’ve seen very bad family cases get fixed. I will not go into details of these cases, but they are just so severe that even I thought that divorce was the only way. And yet, to my surprise, they were fixed. And now, I see their children all grown up and very happy with the family they’re in now despite the horrible things that have happened in the past.

    I also personally come from a similar, although milder, case. I grew up with a father who physically abused my mother. In my childhood, there were times when my mom and I would run away from my father’s house. I didn’t understand it much at the time, but now that I am older and I review those situations, I see it as a typical scene for divorce. But my mom didn’t leave my father permanently. My mom didn’t run away seeking happiness away from my father. She instead FOUGHT to make our family happy. Through years of hard work and tears, she eventually won so to speak.

    Years later, my mom and dad had 3 more children, a decade after I was born. If my mom was weak and did not fight for a happy family, then we would have never experienced the joys we have now. I would still be an only child, in a broken family.

    And like I said, this is not just an isolated case.

  32. juanon:if you are against divorce – then don’t file one.however, allow the option for others who want the option instead of enriching the shrinks. some would like to enrich the state.. lol

    greatly appreciate the feedback though. i agree there are cases which despite looking helpless can still be saved. however, for those cases which are beyond salvage, divorce should be available as an option.

  33. Actually I forgot to clarify that I’m not 100% against divorce. At the moment I cannot agree or disagree that there are cases where divorce should be the only option. However, I do agree that there are some cases where the marriage should have not happened in the first place, hence I still for annulment.

    Also I just realized that my views may not apply universally because as I know that marriage vows vary between states, religions, etc. So I guess my view applies mostly to Catholic marriages.

  34. Anonylol · ·

    Just having divorce as an option shouldn’t be a problem to the couples willing to tough it out and save their marriage.

    I’m not pro-divorce myself, that is to say I am not actively encouriging it. What I am is pro-choice. That is, there should be sensible options available. I’m of the same opinion regarding abortion. I don’t encourage it. In fact, I find it distasteful. But the option should be available because the church/state/whoever shouldn’t be the ones making your choices for you.

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