Saturday, November 18, 2023

Will divorce become legal in the Philippines?

  The NYT has the story:

‘Just Like Medicine’: A New Push for Divorce in a Nation Where It’s Illegal.  A campaign in the Philippines that frames divorce as a basic human right is gaining momentum, despite systemic and religious barriers.  By Sui-Lee Wee

"Thousands of people like Ms. Nepomuceno are trapped in long-dead marriages in the Philippines, the only country in the world, other than the Vatican, where divorce remains illegal. 


"Partly because of their growing numbers and plight, attitudes in the country, where nearly 80 percent of the population is Catholic, have changed. Surveys show that half of Filipinos now support divorce. Even the president has signaled openness to the idea, and the Philippines is the closest it has ever been to legalizing divorce.

"But the issue is far from settled. The powerful Catholic Church has deemed pro-divorce activism to be “irrational advocacy.” Conservative lawmakers remain steadfast in their opposition.

"This has prompted some in the legalization camp to frame divorce as a basic human right, like access to health care or education.


"In recent months, a Senate committee approved a bill on divorce for the first time in more than 30 years. The bill is now awaiting a second reading in the Senate, which lawmakers say could happen next year.


"Divorce has a complicated history in the Philippines. During the Spanish colonial era, divorce was banned, but legal separation was allowed under narrow conditions. Under American occupation, it was made legal, but only on the grounds of adultery and concubinage. The Japanese, who occupied the Philippines during World War II, expanded the divorce law, allowing more grounds for people to seek divorce.

"That changed after the enactment of the country’s Civil Code in 1950. But Muslim citizens, who make up 5 percent of the population, are allowed to divorce, because in 1977, Ferdinand E. Marcos, the president at the time, signed legislation allowing it.


"A decade ago, when the Philippine Congress passed legislation that gave people access to contraception, the clergy held protests and threatened to excommunicate lawmakers for supporting the bill. This time, said Edcel Lagman, a congressman who has pushed for both issues, church officials have been less vocal in its opposition."

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