Social Climate

The popularity of legalizing divorce


In my view, what the narrow 113-104-3 second-reading vote for the reproductive health bill in the House reflected was the initial division of the legislators, and not the general division of the Filipino people.

The wide 133-79-7 third-reading vote that finally approved the bill was closer to the will of the people, as repeatedly shown by scientific opinion polls.

“Divorce bill next—Belmonte” went last Wednesday’s Inquirer headline, after Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte told reporters the day before, “Me, I’m in favor of the divorce bill.” So now is an opportune time to review existing data on Filipino opinions about the proposal to legalize divorce.

In 2005 and 2011, Social Weather Stations did national surveys (with statistically representative samples of 1,200 adults; error margin plus/minus 3 percent), on agreement or disagreement with the following statement:

“Ang mga mag-asawang hiwalay na at hindi na maaaring magkasundo pa ay dapat pahintulutang magdiborsyo para ang mga ito ay legal na makapag-asawa uli.” (“Married couples who have already separated and cannot reconcile anymore should be allowed to divorce so that they can get legally married again.”)

The earlier survey, done on May 14-23, 2005, found 43 percent agreement, 44 percent disagreement, and 12 percent undecided, on this item. Thus, Filipino opinions on allowing divorce for the case of separated+unreconcilable spouses were very evenly split at that time.

The later survey, done on March 4-7, 2011, found 50 percent agreement, 33 percent disagreement, and 16 percent undecided.  Thus, after six years had gone by, opinions had clearly tilted in favor of the legalization of divorce for the separated+unreconcilable.

The 2011 situation is not a case of split opinions anymore. If this were a prereferendum survey, the affirmative side would be expected to win. In research on social attitudes, undecideds must be treated as literally neutral, and not assigned to either side. Fifty percent on one side cannot be called a tie, without considering the percentage of the opposition. In this case, the margin of the affirmative over the negative is a very significant 17 points (50-33)

In March 2011, those in favor of legalizing divorce were dominant not only nationally but also in all study areas of the survey. The scores were 52-35 in the National Capital Region, 54-29 in the Balance of Luzon, 50-37 in the Visayas, and 44-35 in Mindanao. The margin was much stronger in urban settings (56-31) than in rural ones (44-35).

In 2011, all socioeconomic classes favored legalization of divorce, by scores of 57-40 in the middle-to-upper ABCs, 52-32 among the class Ds or masa, and 45-34 among the very poor class Es.

In 2011, the prolegalization side was slightly stronger among men (by 52-30) than among women (by 49-35).

In 2011, the margin in favor of legalization was noticeably related to youth. The highest margin was +28 (55-27) in the youngest group, aged 18-24, whereas the lowest margin was only +6 (46-40) in the oldest group, aged 55 and up. Other age-group margins were +22 (50-28) among those 25-34 years old, +13 (50-37) among those 35-44, and +20 (52-32) among those 45-54.

When opinions are more favorable among the youth, the attrition of older generations from natural causes will steadily raise the national proportion in favor of legalization, even if opinions of each generation stay constant over time. This means that, when the present youth group becomes the median age-group, the ratio of the pros to the antis will become about two to one.

In 2013, SWS will run this noncommissioned survey item again, as well as other items, in conjunction with various issues that may come up in relation to the divorce bill.

As an institution, SWS will not take any position on a bill for legalizing divorce—just as it did not take any position on the RH bill—aside from resolving to place it on our research agenda. Our mission is to find out the state of collective opinion on important social policy matters, and then disseminate such information to a wide general audience.

Anna Punzalan Molina +

SWS is in deep grief for Anna Krista Punzalan Molina, front desk pool secretary, who died unexpectedly on Dec. 15, after three weeks battling an illness not conclusively diagnosed, possibly a type of encephalitis or meningitis.

Her husband and family were by her side when Anna, only 28 years old, passed away. She had given birth to her second child in October, and was due to return from maternity leave this week.

Anna started in SWS in 2006 as a data encoder. Her work as pool secretary since 2008 put her on the public frontline and at the heart of office operations. She was the one who knew where everyone was.

Anna’s charming voice was part of SWS in many ways. Hers would most likely be the first live voice to be heard on the trunk line. She was an active youth leader, a member of her church’s music ministry, and lead singer of our choir.

Whatever Anna did—coordinating admin needs, hosting events, singing on official and unofficial occasions—naturally involved her smiles and laughter.

Anna is survived by her husband Mark Molina and daughters Serenity Faith, three years old, and newborn Felicity Hope. Together with her family and friends, SWS will sadly miss, but always lovingly remember, Anna and her happy soul.

*   *   *

In the spirit of Christmas, I send greetings of peace and goodwill to all peoples, of all religions, and also those with no religion.

Contact SWS or mahar.mangahas@sws.org.ph.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

More from this Column:

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Short URL: http://opinion.inquirer.net/?p=43193

Tags: divorce , Philippines , Poll

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


  • Drunk passenger triggers Bali hijack alert
  • Businesswoman allegedly killed by husband, brother-in-law
  • Roxas suspended from golf club for outburst over P5,000 guest fee
  • SC reschedules oath-taking of new lawyers
  • Ex-COA chief seeks bail after arrest for plunder
  • Sports

  • Guiao fined P100,000 for ‘mongoloid’ comment vs Meralco forward
  • Hawks and Grizzlies revel in home wins
  • Floyd: Manny’s power gone
  • Michael Phelps loses to Lochte in comeback meet
  • Sharapova advances to Stuttgart quarterfinals
  • Lifestyle

  • ‘Recovered’ Banksy works on display ahead of sale
  • Marinduque: Visiting the ‘palm of the ocean’
  • First at Vatican in 60 years
  • How Jing Monis Salon gave Krissy the pixie
  • Want to be a supermodel? Work on your inner beauty, says Joey Espino
  • Entertainment

  • Paul McCartney to play at Candlestick concert
  • Kristoffer Martin: from thug to gay teen
  • Has Ai Ai fallen deeply with ‘sireno?’
  • California court won’t review Jackson doctor case
  • Cris Villonco on play adapted from different medium
  • Business

  • PAL hailed for ban on shark fin cargo
  • BSP to change tint of P100 bill
  • Nielsen sees car buying boom in the Philippines
  • How author of best-seller exposed ‘one percent’ economic elite
  • Bangko Sentral readies new bank lending rules
  • Technology

  • Cloud strength helps Microsoft earnings top Street
  • Vatican announces hashtag for April 27 canonizations
  • Enrile in Masters of the Universe, Lord of the Rings?
  • Top Traits of Digital Marketers
  • No truth to viral no-visa ‘chronicles’
  • Opinion

  • Corruption not invincible after all
  • Editorial Cartoon, April 25, 2014
  • No deal, Janet
  • Like making Al Capone a witness vs his gang
  • MERS-CoV and mothers
  • Global Nation

  • Plane lands at Bali airport in suspected hijacking—Indonesia air force
  • Obama lands in Seoul as N. Korea nuclear test fears grow
  • Militant protests vs Obama, US set
  • Filipinos second-shortest in Southeast Asia
  • China welcomes PH apology
  • Marketplace