Philippines Divorce Bill Doomed Again

Philippines Divorce Bill Doomed Again. I have some expat friends that owe me a bucket of beer. They bet me that a divorce law would be passed in the Philippines this year, 2018. I laughed my fat butt off! Ever since retiring to the Philippines over nine years ago, some legislator has proposed a law to allow divorce in the archipelago. This mostly Catholic nation is the only country in the world (aside from Vatican City) which doesn’t allow divorce.

The Crusty Old Expat is Right!

Though one expat has acknowledged I was correct, I’m not keen on collecting on my bet and drinking a bucket of beer. My lovely asawa and I dropped by Olivia’s Kitchen this past Friday night and I only imbibed one adult beverage. That was my only alcohol content the entire week.

Frankly I take little joy in knowing I was right about something. In over 18 years of marriage, I believe my loving wife has only admitted I was right about something once. That said, she might be correct. What’s the key to a successful marriage? Murray Goldberg gets it.

Murray’s Wisdom

Murray Goldberg, the Dad on the “Goldbergs,” is my new mentor now that “Red Green” has retired. After work, Murray, sits comfortably in his tightie-whities on his favorite armchair watching TV. He often goes along with whatever wife Beverly says, even when he is not paying attention and has no idea what she is saying.

That my friends is the key to a successful marriage.

Graphic credit: seriesand

History of Divorce in the Philippines

An article by Elizabeth Angsioco in The Manila Standard last year revealed some interesting background on the history of divorce in the Philippines:

  • Angsioco’s opinion piece stated that before Magellan “discovered” the Philippines, divorce-like practices were recognized by their ancestors.
  • Some of the known communities that practiced these were the Tagbanwas of Palawan; Gadang of Nueva Vizcaya; Igorots of the Cordilleras; and the Manobos, Bila-an, and Muslims of Visayas and Mindanao.
  • Spain scrapped these practices and replaced them with “Siete Partidas”or legal separation which does not dissolve the marriage.
  • In 1917, the Americans replaced Siete Partidas with Act 2710, or the divorce law that had two (2) grounds, adultery on the woman’s part and concubinage on the man’s.
  • During the Japanese occupation, Act 1917 was replaced by Executive Order (EO) No. 141 that had ten (10) grounds through which one could divorce a spouse. After defeating the Japanese, the US reinstated Act 2710. Nonetheless, divorce was still legal.
  • This was implemented until 1950 when it was invalidated by the Civil Code of the Philippines which brought the country back to the Spanish-era policy of legal separation. The present Family Code added declaration of nullity of marriage and annulment to legal separation. Thus, presently, the Philippines does not have a national divorce law.

Ms. Angsioco’s goes on to opine that this does not mean, however, that there is no divorce in the country. Divorce among Muslims is valid and recognized.  Divorce continues to be available to Muslim Filipinos under the Code of Muslim Personal Law of the Philippines (Presidential Decree No. 1083), declared in 1977. Also, some of indigenous peoples still have divorce-like practices. Therefore, there is still divorce in the Philippines but not for all Filipinos.

Attempts to Legalize a Divorce Law in the Philippines have failed:

  • In 1999, Representative Manuel C. Ortega filed House Bill No. 6993, seeking for the legalization of divorce[i].
  • In 2001, divorce 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.[ii]
  • In 2005, party-list representative Liza Masa of Gabriela filed a divorce bill.[iii]
  • In 2012 Gabriela Party Rep. Luz Ilagan and fellow lawmaker Emmi de Jesus filed another House bill introducing divorce in the Philippines.
  • In 2016 for the 5th time, the Gabriela Women’s Party refiled the bill seeking to institutionalize divorce in the Philippines. The party’s bill was junked every single time.
  • In 2017 two divorce bills were sent to the House Committee on Population and Family Relations. Both bills failed to become law.
  • In 2018, another attempt to pass a divorce bill in the Philippines was filed by the Philippine House of Representatives. The proposed law was sent to the Senate. This is the bill that had all of my expat friends claiming that divorce in the Philippines would finally become law. Having followed the news in the Philippines for the past nine years, I knew that the chances of the proposed bill becoming law were about as good as a snow cone in Hades.
  • There’s nothing that the Senate can do for now, as far as the divorce bill is concerned, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said in June. Sotto was reacting to calls made by some lady lawmakers from the House of Representatives asking the Senate to act on the measure which they have already approved on third and final reading last May 19. House​ ​Bill 7303 sought to institutionalize absolute divorce and dissolution of marriage in the Philippines.

Currently, no​ ​senator has filed a similar or counterpart measure. President Duterte is against it. The measure is basically “dead in the water.” Again.

And I get to collect on my “bucket of beer” bet.

[i],  [ii], [iii] Jaromay, Laurente, Pamaos Law Offices (2008, August 5)  Proposed Divorce Law in the Philippines. Retrieved from Philippine e-Legal Forum,

Author: The Kano

POST AUTHOR: "THE KANO." Dave DeWall, "The Kano", is the Publisher & Editor-in-Chief of "Philippines Plus" in publication since August 2009. He is also the CEO of Lizard Poop Productions and author of the best-selling guide book "The Philippines Expat Advisor." Dave moved to the Philippines in July 2009 from Central Illinois with his lovely wife of over 19 years, "The Sainted Patient Wife." The couple reside in a rural province in Western Visayas, Guimaras. The small island province is said to have the sweetest mangoes in the world. They do not have any children but are the proud owners of eight active canines, including a Belgian Shepherd called "Killer" "Killer" has bitten five people in the last two years along with one goat and a carabao. "Killer" doesn't like strangers. Or goats. Or carabaos.