By ARTHUR APOSTOL
ONLY THREE out of the nine attending presidential candidates said they are in favor of instituting divorce in the Philippines during the CNN Presidential debate held Sunday.
Presidential candidates Panfilo Lacson, Leody De Guzman, and Faisal Mangondato are the only ones who have raised their hands when asked about divorce in the Philippines.
Sen. Manny Pacquiao said that marriage is not a joke but a “commitment to God and one’s partner.”
“We need to teach people how to be a spouse, educate people how to be partners before marriage because marriage is not a joke, especially withdrawing from it,” he said.
Pacquiao added that people should think hard and get to know each other better before getting married so that they will not undergo separation.
The Family Code of the Philippines currently forbids divorce, but annulment of marriage or legal separation is allowed.
Pro-divorce groups in the country however claim that annulment is “anti-poor” and favors only those who can afford its processes.
As of today, only the Vatican and Philippines are the last two sovereign nations that have not instituted divorce.
Affordability, Accessibility, and Violence Against Women
Vice President Leni Robredo said that while she believes annulment is there already, she agrees it is not accessible for the poor, citing the psychological examination requirement.
“This is very expensive, it is not accessible for the poor, that’s why there are claims that it is only accessible for the rich,” she said.
Robredo added however that there is currently a Supreme Court decision that would change the annulment and make it more accessible.
She also recalled her time as a lawyer for an NGO, where the majority of cases that she handled were violence against women and children.
“I have had many clients who were beaten by their husbands, who were victims of domestic abuse, victims of sexual harassment,” she said.
In an interview with Manila Bulletin in September last year, she said that the Declaration of Nullity of Marriage in the Family Code needed to be amended.
Robredo always links supporting abused women in the country to divorce, but does not give straight yes or no answers when asked if she supports legalizing it.
Recently, however, during her presidential interview with Jessica Soho, she said “at this point, no” to divorce but they were not given the chance to elaborate why.
Robredo said that the “economic empowerment” of women could also help them with the abuse that they go through. F