Malta, the only country aside from the Philippines to have no divorce law, is proposing legislation which make divorce legal after four years of separation leaving the Philippines as the only country in the world without a divorce law (OK, Vatican City does not have a divorce law either, but when's the last time you thought of them as a country?)The Catholic Church in the Philippines is vehemently opposed to the proposed bill which would legalize divorce which has long been in congressional files but never enacted, just days after voters from largely Catholic Malta approved a referendum to legalize divorce May 29. The bill is expected to pass making it possible for married couples to divorce after four years of separation.
The U.S. Catholic website reports the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines has repeated its determination to protect marriage in the Philippines after the Maltese vote.
The debate over divorce in the Philippines, where 82 percent of the population is Catholic, comes as the country's legislature considers a controversial reproductive health bill, RH Bill. The bishops also have opposed that bill while calling upon Catholics to withhold taxes in protest if it passes.
The article from U.S. Catholic quotes the following clergy:
- Father Jerry Oblepias, director of the Family Life Ministry in the San Pablo Diocese, told the bishops' news service that "divorce remains to be part of the death culture that seeks to destroy the family. Once the family is destroyed, degradation of values is surely at the doorstep."
- Father Oblepias also said that Catholics "should stand on the side of morality," and not join the bandwagon.
- Retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz of Lingayen-Dagupan called the bill "anti-Filipino." (OK, Bishop, I don't get that one.)
Currently, annulment is the only type of legal separation allowed under Philippine law. Annulment can be costly and some see it as a privilege for those who can afford the legal proceedings while the poor are forced to remain in an abusive relationship because of a lack of money.
My personal opinion is that some type of law legalizing divorce should be enacted in the Philippines. I am opposed to any "quickie divorce" laws which are so prevalent in the United States. I just recently became aware that my own divorce back in the States occurred over 20 years this past May after cleaning out and organizing some old paperwork. I threw away my old marriage certificate but kept my divorce decree. If you find yourself divorced, hang onto those divorce papers, you'll need them later if you ever plan to marry in the Philippines.
My ex-wife (who also had been divorced and single for six years) filed for divorce after only nine months of marriage. I did not cheat on her and neither did I abuse her. Her two younger daughters that lived with her threatened to move to their Dad's home if I stayed. They liked life as it was before I came along. I found a sheriff's deputy in front of my work place with divorce papers in hand, and my clothes and belongings in plastic garbage bags in our front yard.
I was devastated. I had married at the age of 37 and was alone again. After fighting the divorce for a year and making my lawyer richer, my estranged wife's lawyer presented a final offer. I would pay 400 dollars, and my "wife" would drop all claims to my pension from AT&T. We had no children of our own. I reluctantly agreed to the deal. Fortunately, years later, I met my current Filipina wife, Melinda, The Sainted Patient Wife, who believe me, is EXTREMELY patient having put up with me for over 11 years. How she does it, I'll never know.
However, in cases of abusive or philandering spouses, I am in favor of some sort of divorce law in the Philippines as I previously noted. Should there be a four year separation period as Malta is proposing? I'll leave that up to the Philippine lawmakers. With so many separated couples in the Philippines that simply illegally remarry since they cannot obtain a divorce or annulment, possibly making the Philippines the bigamy capitol of the world, I believe some kind of legislation legalizing divorce in the Philippines is needed. But that's just my opinion. What's yours?