HOUSE Bill (HB) 1799 is an Act Introducing Divorce in the Philippines.

The bill was first filed during the 13th Congress but it only reached the committee level. This time Gabriela re-filed the bill during the 14th Congress. Gabriela said it favors divorce, since getting an annulment can be very expensive.

I personally support Gabriela in re-filing this House Bill, especially in defense of the right of women in the Philippines who suffer so many abuses.

Updates on President Benigno Aquino III's presidency

According to a news report in Sun.Star on August 19, 2010, Msgr. Elmer Abacahin, the national director of the Basic Ecclesiastical Communities of the Catholic

Bishops Conference of the Philippines, said in reference to HB 1799: "Divorce to be legalized in the Philippines is a big no for the Church."

The Philippines may be different compared to other Western countries, according to Abacahin, but we have different principles as Christians that has been taught by our ancestors to always obey the rules of God. Abacahin expresses here the arrogance of the Catholic Church in the Philippines with respect to this issue.

He would do better if he changes his tune a bit. In the first place, his being national director of the BEC doesn't mean anything. He himself hasn't got a clue of what the BEC is all about because he has never been involved in building basic Christian communities.

In the second place, Elmer is not a bishop, he is only a monsignor, which is an honorary title that means nothing. But even if he were a bishop he should know that we no longer live in the middle ages. Church doctrine and canon law have to be re-evaluated in the light of the changing times and cultures. It has to be brought in tune with the Catholic Social Teaching after Vatican II.

The Philippine Constitution is not only for Catholics but also for many other Christians and non-Christians.

When the Catholic Bishops say that the Church does not recognize divorce, they know that this is canon law but not necessarily the Law of God.

The Bible says: "What God has joined together, let no man put asunder" (Mt. 19,6). If a man and a woman sincerely promise each other to become husband and wife, they take God himself as witness. They administer the sacrament of marriage to each other with God as witness regardless of the fact whether a priest or a judge is present as witness of their promise. The Church may give an annulment of their marriage, i.e. declare their marriage as null and void, non-existent. But for that you need clever lawyers and a lot of money. No ordinary woman can afford that. In fact, only God who can read the mind and conscience of man can consider their marriage as null and void. In the same manner, a husband can in conscience divorce his wife, or a wife her husband.

God knows there are many grounds here in the Philippines for a wife to divorce her husband, like rape, physical violence, drug addiction, sexual infidelity or psychological incapacity. The church or a judge may determine that there is enough ground for separation or divorce but only God is the final judge.

Finally, to Elmer Abacahin I would like to say this: If a priest violates his vow of celibacy or chastity by impregnating a woman, he should be man enough to take the consequence of his mistake. He should leave the priesthood and take care of the mother and the child. Their rights are more sacred than his priesthood is sacred.

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