Zubiri to adhere Pope's call to 'protect family' amid proposed divorce bill
June 9, 2024 6:02pm

Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri on Sunday said he will do his best to “protect the family values” in the Philippines following his encounter with Pope Francis at the Vatican.

“Pope Francis asked me to please protect the family, and this is an instruction that I will take to heart,” Zubiri said in a statement.

“I am always going to remember his reminder, and I am going to do my best to protect the family values that hold our nation together,” the senator added.

Last May 22, the House of Representatives approved on final reading the proposed measure on absolute divorce with 131 lawmakers voting in favor.

Accompanied by Philippine Ambassador to the Holy See Myla Grace Ragenia Macahilig, Zubiri and his family went to Vatican City last June 5. They were able to meet the Pope during his weekly catechesis and prayers for world peace.

The Philippines and the Vatican are the only countries that forbid divorce. 

“Lolo Kiko is so special to us Filipinos, and I got the feeling that he holds us in a special place in his heart and his prayers as well, as one of the most devoutly Catholic nations in the world,” Zubiri said.

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines remained firm in its stance against the approval of divorce law in the country, saying that it is “anti-family, anti-marriage and anti-children.” 

Zubiri said although he is open to discussion on the divorce bill, he keeps a strong belief in the “sanctity and insolubility of marriage.”

The former Senate President is in Europe to “take a short sabbatical away from politics,” and to spend some “long-promised quality time” with his family.

“This is the first time in two years that I have been able to give my family my undivided attention, and so I really wanted to take them away for some family time - all on my personal expense, of course,” the senator said.

“Our Catholic faith is so important to our family, so it was very humbling to have the Pope give us so much of his time and attention. He seemed especially fond of our youngest boy, and even asked him to learn Spanish.”

During the meeting, Zubiri explained to the Pope that he is a pro-life and pro-family legislator from the Philippines, to which the Pope responded by asking him to “please protect the family.”

Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada earlier said the divorce bill would not be a priority under the new Senate leadership.

He said some senators against the proposed measure include Zubiri, Senate President Francis "Chiz" Escudero and Majority Leader Francis Tolentino.

Meanwhile, Senate Deputy Minority Leader Risa Hontiveros appealed to her fellow senators to give the divorce bill a "fair fight." 

A recent Social Weather Stations survey also showed that half of Filipino adults support the legalization of divorce.—Mariel Celine Serquiña/RF, GMA Integrated News

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