Ban on divorce is creating criminals, sinners (1) | Inquirer Opinion

Ban on divorce is creating criminals, sinners (1)

The government’s policy prohibiting divorce is the biggest contributor to the number of criminals in our country. The religious prohibition on divorce is the biggest reason why so many Filipinos have become sinners. The ban is responsible for creating a huge number of second-class citizens leading pitiful lives in our country. Because of the ban, couples in unworkable marriages just go their separate ways without dissolving their marital ties.

A court annulment is a convoluted process and insanely expensive for the majority of incompatible couples. When God or fate gifts people a second chance at love, they will either contract a second marriage or simply live in with their newfound partners. Entering into another marriage means they are committing bigamy, while committing to a live-in relationship makes them guilty of concubinage or adultery. The ban on divorce has thus forced an increasing number of our people into becoming criminals.

Based on a 2020 government survey, there are about 12.6 million Filipinos in live-in arrangements, which translates to 14.7 percent of a relevant household population of 86.33 million. We can reasonably assume that not less than half of these live-in arrangements are second chance relationships, with undissolved prior marriages. Anyone can confirm the prevalence of this kind of relationship in urban and rural poor communities. This means that there are at least six million Filipinos who lead their lives as criminals because of their liability for concubinage or adultery. Their number is double the three million drug addicts in our country whom former president Rodrigo Duterte had branded as criminals during his term. The policy prohibiting divorce is, therefore, singularly responsible for the biggest group of criminals in our country.

Equally worse is the fact that common law relationships with undissolved prior marriages have been bringing forth into this world a huge number of children condemned by law as illegitimate, and by society as bastards. These kids have inferior rights compared to legitimate offspring, and suffer serious social stigma as well. Aside from creating this huge number of second-class citizens with inferior rights, the ban on divorce is generating so many dysfunctional lives. Children in unworkable marriages grow up in a hostile environment where they may witness abusive behavior.


There is also an economic impact, as separated couples cannot obtain loans and have difficulty entering into many forms of contract without the consent of their uncooperative and estranged spouse. A deadbeat husband meanwhile can still claim half of the conjugal property even if solely acquired by a long-suffering wife, and even if they’ve been living separate lives. As well, the estranged spouse still has a say on the cadaver of the deceased spouse even if the latter had long been in a common law relationship.

The list of serious dysfunction goes on. The psychological and corporeal damage the divorce ban causes family members, as well as the collective havoc it brings to society, are gravely irreparable. With an unprejudiced view, our courts should see that the ban on divorce is unconstitutional for being violative of the Constitution’s equal protection clause. For one, why is divorce prohibited for the majority of Filipinos, but allowed for two minority groups in our country, namely, our Muslim brethren and Filipinos married to aliens? There’s no real difference in the concept of marriage among members of the two minority groups on one hand, and the nature of marriage among the majority of Filipinos on the other hand, that entitles the former to have the remedy of divorce but deprives the latter the same recourse. The elements of religion and having an alien spouse do not constitute valid grounds to justify discrimination because they are elements irrelevant to the sanctity of marriage.

You cannot say that marriage is “inviolable” under the Constitution when you speak to majority of Filipinos, but make an about-face and say that marriage among the two minority groups are exempt from the requirement of inviolability. You cannot posture as a realist, pragmatist, and compassionate being when it comes to the two minority groups, and then suddenly become unrealistic, unpragmatic, and uncompassionate when it comes to the majority.

Our policy on divorce perpetuates an inverted discrimination where the minority is unfairly favored while the majority is unreasonably disfavored. I know of no other country that allows this kind of discrimination against its majority population on the issue of divorce. Our political and religious leaders who brand divorce as “anti-family, anti-marriage, and anti-children” should come down from their ivory towers and see for themselves the realities on the ground. They will find out that the complete opposite is true. It’s the ban on divorce that wreaks havoc on families, destroys people’s faith in marriage, and ruins children’s lives. As a societal policy, the prohibition against divorce is a miserable failure.


(To be continued)



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