MANILA, Philippines – Up to 67%, or 2 out of 3 Filipinos, reject a proposed law on divorce, a recent survey shows.
This is the combined number of Filipinos who somewhat disagree and strongly disagree "with passing a divorce law in the Philippines," according to survey results published by Philippine broadsheet The Standard on Friday, June 5.
The survey, which was conducted by veteran pollster Junie Laylo of Laylo Research Strategies, said 50% of Filipinos strongly disagree with passing a divorce law.
It said 17% somewhat disagree. On the other hand, 16% of Filipinos strongly agree with passing the measure, while 17% somewhat agree.
The Standard poll had a margin of error of ±3% for national results.
The survey comes as a proposed divorce law, which has languished in Congress since 2010, is getting an extra push from its advocates.
Two months earlier, a survey by the Social Weather Stations showed that "public support for legalization of divorce…grew to a clear majority of 60% in December 2014."
The Philippines is said to be the only state in the world, aside from Vatican City, that prohibits divorce.
Bishops in this predominantly Catholic country have strongly rejected divorce, the way they denounced a birth control measure signed into law in 2012.
'Some promises irrevocable'
In a position paper in March, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) argued: "A failed marriage is not an argument for divorce. It is rather proof of the necessity that only mature people enter into it."
CBCP president Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas also said divorce "is a deterrent to working on differences." Villegas added that divorce "victimizes children."
He explained: "Society should be able to count on some promises as irrevocable. The promise of a physician to serve life and not to destroy it, the promise of a public official to serve and defend the Constitution, the promise of spouses to be faithful to each other, the promise of a priest to mirror to the world the care of the Good Shepherd – all these are promises that society has a right to rely on and that those who so promise have no right to renege on."
Villegas said: "If you cannot keep the promise, do not make it all. Do not claim its privileges while refusing to own up to its demands!"
Problem with annulment
Divorce advocate and annulment lawyer Evalyn Ursua, on the other hand, said divorce will "make the law straightforward" for couples in failed marriages. "We shouldn't make it difficult for people to fix their lives," she said in a Rappler Talk interview.
In the same interview, lawyer Ginger Castillo argued that divorce upholds the sanctity of marriage.
She said "the problem with annulment," which is legal in the Philippines, is that "you say that your marriage was void from the start." She said, "So what was that? It's a joke?"
Castillo said: "So I would want to say that my marriage was a happy one – at least for the first 12 years. And I would not want to say that it was a farce because it was real. My children are legitimate under the law. Under annulment, my marriage is void. In divorce, you recognize the marriage as valid. I think you would respect the sanctity of marriage if you go for divorce." – Rappler.com
Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.