CEBU Archbishop Jose Palma urged everyone, especially married couples, to focus on strengthening married life rather than working to make divorce legal in the Philippines.
The prelate also reminded the lawmakers who are in favor of the Dissolution of Marriage Bill to give more importance to counseling married couples who are struggling in their relationship rather than just giving them the option to live separately.
“What we can do is to make people realize that this is a sacred covenant, and how couples could make their union become fulfilling and become a source of joy. Also to become an opportunity to show to everyone that they are the basis of a solid society in the Church,” said Palma, who led the blessing and inauguration of the Nuestra Señora dela Salud Building, the senior high school building of the University of San Jose Recoletos in Barangay Basak, Cebu City last Friday.
Palma pointed out the importance of marriage.
“We have been consistently teaching about the dignity and sanctity of marriage, and that’s the way we do it,” he said.
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez filed House Bill 6027 on July 24 to legalize the dissolution of marriage in the Philippines.
The bill mentioned that divorce will be an easier and cheaper alternative over annulment and would enable more peaceful negotiations between couples after their married lives.
If the bill will be passed into law, a married couple could simply go to court to dissolve their legal companionship within 30 days, said House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez during a press conference in Cebu.
Alvarez said that the “ground” for dissolution of marriage is “severe and chronic unhappiness.”
“Look, you have to explain to the court why you are unhappy with your marriage. Maybe, a wife is unhappy because the husband is a drunkard. Maybe, the husband is unhappy because the wife is a gambler. Or both are not interested to raise their children,” said Alvarez.
“We will make it simple and not expensive. If an unhappy married couple will decide to part ways, they can file a joint petition to the court to dissolve their marriage and they have already agreed on how to divide their properties, custody of children, among others,” said Alvarez.
The bill also seeks to require the petitioning couples to submit a “joint plan for parenthood.”
Alvarez said it’s too costly to file an annulment case.
“In this case, there’s no need for a lawyer. The role of the judge is ministerial and he cannot deny any petition to dissolve a marriage,” said Alvarez.
The House speaker said that if the court petition is not joint, and the other spouse will oppose, there will be only two hearings where the complainant will explain to the court why he/she is not happy anymore with their marriage.
“After the two hearings, the judge will issue an order to dissolve the marriage, divide the properties and assign the custody of children,” he said.
He urged churches to respect the obligation of the government to the people.
“The responsibility of the government to the people will not choose whatever religion they belong. All the Filipino citizens is the responsibility of the government,” Alvarez said.
He reminded the religious sector that the unhappy people will become unproductive in the society. (Jaziel Calumpag, USC Intern/EOB)