Thursday, August 22, 2019

4 lawmakers from Cebu voted ‘no’ on divorce house bill

FOUR legislators from Cebu voted against the passage last Monday of a bill that seeks to legalize divorce in the entire country. At least one abstained.

Reps. Peter John Calderon (Cebu Province, 7th district) and Wilfredo Caminero (Cebu Province, 2nd) voted against House Bill 7303 after plenary debates. Cebu City Reps. Rodrigo Abellanosa and Raul del Mar also voted against it.

Rep. Gerald Anthony “Samsam” Gullas (Cebu, 1st) abstained from voting. Reps. Benhur Salimbangon and Ramon “Red” Durano VI of the fourth and fifth districts, respectively, were unable to vote.

SunStar has yet to confirm how Reps. Jonas Cortes and Aileen Radaza of Cebu Province’s sixth district and Lapu-Lapu City, respectively, voted on House Bill 7303.

Deputy Speaker Gwen Garcia (Cebu, 3rd) is one of the co-authors of the bill.

What Catholics want

Following the passage of House Bill 7303 last Monday, Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma didn’t hesitate to show his disappointment toward legislators who voted for the measure.

“I have doubts if what Congress decided was truly what majority of Catholics want,” Palma, a former president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, told reporters on Tuesday.

The archbishop believes that majority of the senators wouldn’t support divorce.

The House of Representatives approved the bill on third and final reading by a vote of 134-57, with two abstentions. The Senate, however, does not yet have a counterpart to the proposed “absolute divorce and dissolution of marriage” law.

The bill states that grounds for the grant of an absolute divorce decree shall include the same grounds for legal separation and annulment of marriage under the Family Code, de facto separation for at least five years, legal separation by judicial decree for at least two years, psychological incapacity, gender reassignment surgery, irreconcilable differences, and joint petition of spouses, the House said in a statement.

Their reasons

In a text message, Calderon said he voted against the bill because divorce is “not a solution to the problems of marriage.”

“Married couples should work out and try all means to make their marriage work and preserve the family. The inevitable victims in a divorce are the children,” Calderon said.

Caminero explained his vote this way: “A sacrifice for the weakness of the other but joy and happiness for the common strength; when it collapses, it’s the children who are worst affected. Let not the State be a party to the perceived misery.”

Gullas said he abstained from voting on the bill as he had mixed feelings on it.

“I genuinely believe marriage is sacred. It is a lifelong promise between a man and a woman to love and support each other until death do they part. A promise to someone in front of our Creator is something that we should protect. On the other hand, I’m lucky enough to be part of the leadership of the house as deputy majority leader,” said Gullas, who is getting married in August.

‘Not an end goal’

Cebu City’s Congressman del Mar said he voted against the bill because it “violates the provisions of the Constitution, specifically Sections 1 and 2 of Article XV, which provide that marriage is an inviolable social institution of the nation.”

Del Mar said he debated for two hours on his stand.

For his part, Abellanosa said he voted against the bill because an absolute divorce law will weaken the family. “It must be understood that marriage is not an end goal. It is a continuing journey where the couple must work together to see it through. It is a relationship that requires patience and nurturing, instead of an easy way out when things get a little difficult,” he said.

Of those interviewed, only Salimbangon said he was in favor of the divorce bill, saying it would spare couples from the long litigation that the current annulment process entails.

However, Salimbangon said he was not able to vote because he attended a meeting of the Commission on Appointments.

Durano said he was against a divorce law. He was not able to vote because he had filed a notice of absence and attended a fiesta in San Francisco, Camotes Island. (With RVC, EOB)

*With correction: Deputy Speaker Gwen Garcia (Cebu, 3rd district) is one of the co-authors of the bill.
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