The Inquirer reported last July 25 that on top of the agenda of the Philippine Congress is a bill that proposes the legalization of the “dissolution of marriage.” I wonder why they prefer to use that long phrase when it simply means divorce. Perhaps the term divorce has such a bad reputation so they want to try a new euphemism.
What do our lawmakers want to achieve by legalizing divorce? Typically, people argue for the rights of the spouses to be happy and seek new partners when the ones they chose turned out to be the wrong choice. I too want these spouses to be happy. But will divorce make them happy? If we look at statistics, we can observe that divorcees frequently do not stop at one. They get another and another. They’re really not happy. And once divorce is introduced into the laws, the experience of countries around the world shows that the divorce rates go very high.
It is not the institution of marriage with its marks of unity (one man and one woman) and indissolubility (the marriage bond is for life) that is the problem. It’s the individuals who enter into it who have problems. Even in present time, marriage is still the institution that produces happy families and model citizens. It is worth the effort to defend both marriage and the family. And it so happens that the Philippine Constitution mandates the state to defend marriage and the family.
Article XV, Section 1 says: “The State recognizes the Filipino family as the foundation of the nation. Accordingly, it shall strengthen its solidarity and actively promote its total development.” Section 2 states: “Marriage, as an inviolable social institution, is the foundation of the family and shall be protected by the State.” I wonder if our lawmakers are aware that they are supposed to protect marriage as an inviolable social institution and that by legalizing divorce they are violating marriage. If ever this law is passed it is definitely unconstitutional.
The experience of other countries also shows that the ones who suffer the most because of divorce are the children. Section 3 of the same article of our Constitution says: “The State shall defend: The right of children to assistance, including proper care and nutrition, and special protection from all forms of neglect, abuse, cruelty, exploitation and other conditions prejudicial to their development.” Our lawmakers should realize that by legalizing divorce they are violating this provision of the Constitution. This is another reason why a divorce law in our country is unconstitutional. Moreover the social and financial costs of taking care of children abandoned by
divorced parents are very high.
I suggest that our lawmakers be more creative in their thinking and enact laws that will effectively defend marriage and the family. For example: Why not think of laws that will help Filipinos to be more adequately prepared for marriage so that they don’t end up with the usual problems that make people seek separation and divorce? Why not set up centers and facilities with adequately trained professionals to assist persons with problems in their marriage? We should not be copycats of other countries with divorce laws.
FR. CECILIO L. MAGSINO, [email protected]
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