THE Catholic Church is reiterating its opposition to the passage of a bill legalizing divorce in the country that has been re-filed at the House of Representatives by women party-list group Gabriela.

Monsignor Elmer S. Abacahin, national director of the Basic Ecclesiastical Communities of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), said the main principle of the Church tells not to separate the family.

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"Divorce to be legalized in the Philippines is a big no for the Church. As what the natural law dictates, we based it on our faith not to favor divorce," Abacahin said.

He said the bill's proponents could have all their explanations in order to pass the bill but the Church would always say "no" to it.

House Bill (HB) 1799 or "An Act Introducing Divorce in the Philippines" was first filed during the 13th Congress but only reached the committee level.

However, Gabriela re-filed the bill during the 14th Congress.

In a statement, Gabriela said it favors divorce since getting an annulment can be very expensive.

Under the Family Code, annulment is the only ground to restore a single status, allowing each individual to remarry but the process entails proving in court that a marriage is void due to a preexisting condition -- physical or psychological -- that causes inability to perform marital obligations.

Legal separation, meanwhile, recognizes the end of marriage, but at the same time disallows remarriage.

In re-filing the bill, Gabriela said it would help in making sure that the law will not be abused, especially by women.

"The Pinoy-style divorce is designed with enough safeguards to prevent it from becoming a common recourse," Gabriela said in a statement.

Under the bill, a petition for divorce may be filed on the following grounds: separation for at least five years at the time of filing the petition; couples are legally separated for at least two years; any grounds for legal separation like repeated physical violence, drug addiction, imprisonment of spouse for more than six years, bigamous marriage, sexual infidelity, abandonment and frustrated parricide that has caused irreparable damage to the marriage, psychological incapacity and irreconcilable differences.

However, Abacahin said the Philippines is different compared to other western countries.

"We have different principles as Christians that has been taught by our ancestors to always obey the rules of God. It is Gabriela's own opinion that we should also respect, but the faithful also has our own, which will never be changed no matter how good the bill is. We don't mind if it's only us who will be making a stand against the bill. The bottom line here is to respect each other's opinion. We are here to guide the people, not to criticize," he said.

Abacahin added that the people must respect the sacredness of marriage in the eyes of God and man.

"Even if the world is changing, it is not necessary that all legal are moral, just like prostitution," he added, citing that the Church has been exhausting all means so that the bill would not become a law. (Nicole J. Managbanag)