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Senate conducts first hearing on divorce bill


The Senate conducted Tuesday its first ever hearing on bills instituting divorce and dissolution of marriage in the country.

Senator Risa Hontiveros, who chairs the women, children, family relations and gender equality committee, described it as a historic day as it will be the first time the Senate will discuss the controversial bills.

“Lahat tayong nandito ngayon ay mga kalahok at testigo sa paglikha ng kasaysayan. This is history in the making. We are in the process of making history by crafting a policy to make dissolution of marriage available to all Filipinos who want second chances in love, to rebuild their families and start all over again,” she said in her opening speech.

Hontiveros, a widow, said she believes in and support the institution of marriage as she was happily married.

“I have the highest admiration and respect for happy, married couples. Ang kasal, bukod sa pagdiriwang ng pagmamahalan, ay malalim na pagtataya sa tapat na pagsasama,” she said.

However, she said there are Filipinos, especially women and their children, who have the right to turn the page and be free from abusive and loveless relationships.

“Buo ang aking simpatiya at suporta sa ating mga kababayan, lalo na napakaraming kababaihang biktima ng domestic violence at psychological abuse. They, together with their children, deserve all the chances available in this world to build nurturing families and find true and meaningful relationships,” she said.

She said the divorce bill is pro-marriage, pro-family, and pro-children as it will make people respect marriage more by being more discerning with their choices in life and protects children from abuse and rebuilds broken families.

“We can call it whatever we want. Divorce. Dissolution of marriage or ano pa man. Ang mahalaga, bigyan natin ng second chance ang ating mga kababayan,” she said.

Case studies

 

Ma. Stella Sibonga and Len Arcilla of the Divorce Coalition of the Philippines become emotional as they testify at a Senate inquiry into the divorce bill on Tuesday, September 17, 2019. Benjie Castro
Ma. Stella Sibonga and Len Arcilla of the Divorce Coalition of the Philippines become emotional as they testify at a Senate inquiry into the divorce bill on Tuesday, September 17, 2019. Benjie Castro

During the hearing, Hontiveros presented several case studies which showed the need for a divorce in the country.

Ma. Stella Sibonga said she was a victim of forced marriage and her husband refused to acknowledge their three children as his.

“Lagi siyang naglalasing, walang trabaho, nambababae, lagi niyang sinasabi na magtiis ka, hindi ko sigurado kung mga anak ko ‘yan,” she narrated.

She said her husband did not abuse her physically but he abused her emotionally and verbally.

She said she endured all of it for years before she decided to work in Manila and leave her children in Surigao del Sur.

When she had enough money, Sibonga decided to file an annulment case but it was not filed immediately as there was no judge who would handle it at the time.

She said the annulment case was finally filed in 2012 and it took the court five years to grant it, however, the Office of the Solicitor General filed a motion for reconsideration.

Floranie Jacob of the Psychological Association of the Philippines said Sibonga suffered a battered wife syndrome as she was not able to immediately get out of the abusive marriage.

“It is obvious that not only was the spouse emotionally scarred but the children. What model will they have on how to behave in a marriage. In the case of the resource person, she  succumbed to battered woman syndrome, she was not able to rise up and defend herself,” she said. — RSJ, GMA News

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