Why Manila Rep. Chua favors divorce

IN this day and age, most politicians in this country are totally afraid of going against the wishes of the Church.

A congressman from Manila issued a statement as to why he voted for the passage of a proposed bill pushing for absolute divorce.     

Rep. Joel Chua was the only one of the six Congressmen representing Manila who voted in favor of divorce. He said he decided to vote his conscience.

For him, the people must be given choices because lack of it is another form of poverty.     

Voting on the divorce bill, he said, should not be based on religion, and inclusivity must be paramount when making decisions, especially about governance because governance is not about religion but what is right and just for everyone.     

The Congressman also said he recognizes that many Filipinos are not Catholics, not Christians and some even allow marriage to more than one wife or divorce any of their wives based on their religion or customs, adding that he cannot impose his beliefs about marriage and divorce on them but that as a public servant involved in governance, he cannot in conscience participate in denying them the option of divorce when it is their choice to avail of it.   

“As an advocate of our society’s laws, those same laws require that I respect and enforce the civil rights and due process inherently deserved by every citizen, including spouses and their children trapped and held hostage in marriages that have collapsed beyond repair and threaten death or serious injury to them,” he underscored.     

While some argue that the options of legal separation and annulment are available, therefore there is no need for a divorce law, Chua had this to say: ‘Justice delayed is justice denied. By the time those options reach their conclusions, irreparable damage has been inflicted on the abused spouse or both spouses and/or on their children.”     

“Even if the injurious costs are removed, the red tape of legal separation and annulment are ridiculous and sadistic upon the aggrieved spouses and children. The implementors of legal separation and annulment can, without the need for new laws, adopt rules that erase or cast aside those costs and red tape. But they choose not to because it is in their interest to keep those costs and red tape in place, in utter disregard of the suffering of the aggrieved spouses and children. In other words, the system is rigged against spouses and children in anguish. That is not how a just society must be toward its citizens,” Chua explained.
Corollary to this, he underscored that another neglected aspect of the Family Code concerns common law marriages, saying our laws and customs have long recognized common law marriages but that the Family Code does not have explicit mechanisms and procedures formally recognizing common law spouses and there is no registration process.      

“Without these workings of the law, common law spouses are not really married. In fact, most of them still consider themselves single because they did not go through any marriage rites. In the process, they are unable to claim rights and benefits due to married spouses. Barangays and Katarungang Pambarangay or Barangay Justice System have no role in the enforcement of the Family Code. The barangay is the government closest to the people and yet when it comes to the matters about marriage, domestic violence, violence against women and children, the Family Code is beyond their reach and barangays cannot enforce the Family Code because they are excluded from it,” Chua added.  

Notably, time is not on the side of the divorce bill because only one regular session remains in the 19th Congress. Those against divorce in the Senate can simply delay action or sit on the bill.      

Some might be thinking they can “kick the can” down the road so that it will be up to the 20th Congress to tackle it. But that means the divorce bill will go back to square one.   

Even if by some miracle, the Senate passes the divorce bill by the slimmest of margins, Chua says pro-divorce legislators have the specter of the veto power in the hands of the President.      

“The same people who have been against the divorce bill will plead to the President to veto the divorce bill but trusting in the fairness of President Ferdinand Marcos,  Jr, I believe those who are pro-divorce will be heard in Malacanang. It will be ultimately up to the President whether the divorce bill becomes law or not. He has at least three choices. He can veto it, sign it, or let it lapse into law thirty days after his office receives the approved bill from Congress.”      

The House of Representatives, voting 131 against 109, recently approved on final reading the proposed measure on absolute divorce. Twenty had abstained. 

Also a lawyer, Rep. Chua cites the number of third district residents who seek help from his office for annulment or legal separation, citing highly valid reasons why they want out of their relationship.   

Happiness, he stressed, is a right that everyone should enjoy and for him, his role in society is to give options, adding that he cannot vote to exclude divorce from among the options that couples can exercise when they deem it necessary.    

I totally agree. Each of us should be the master of our own lives. Only we can decide what is best for us. 


DIRECT HIT entertains comments, suggestions or complaints. Please have them emailed to [email protected] or text 0917-3132168.