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Alvarez refiles absolute divorce, civil partnership bills

Davao Del Norte Representative Pantaleon Alvarez has refiled the absolute divorce and civil partnership bills—two of the measures he pushed during his term as Speaker of the House of Representatives—in the 18th Congress.

In the previous Congress, the House approved on third and final reading its version of the absolute divorce bill, then numbered House Bill 7303.

The measure, however, failed to get approval from the Senate.

"The version of the bill that was approved on third and final reading and transmitted to the Senate is herein reproduced, refiled, and its passage is earnestly sought," Alvarez said in the explanatory note of House Bill 2263, the refiled absolute divorce bill.

The bill provides that after the divorce becomes effective, the marriage bonds will be severed and the former spouses will have the right to marry another person either by civil or religious ceremony.

The measure also ensures that the proceedings for the grant of absolute divorce will be affordable and inexpensive, particularly for indigent litigants and petitioners.

A mandatory six-month cooling-off period will also be provided under the bill. During this period, the court will not start the trial for absolute divorce after the filing of the petition for six months to try to to reunite and reconcile the parties.

Meanwhile, in refiling the civil partnership bill as House Bill 2264, Alvarez stressed the right of all Filipinos to equal protection under the law and to freely associate themselves with others.

"This bill... hereby proposes to allow couples to enter into a civil partnership, whether they are of the opposite or of the same sex," he said.

"It aims to be a landmark effort to provide civil rights, benefits, and responsibilities to couples, previously unable to marry, by giving them due recognition and protection from the State," he added.

Under the measure, all benefits and protections as granted to spouses in a marriage under existing laws, administrative orders, court rulings, or those derived as a matter of public policy will also be enjoyed by civil partnership couples.

At the same time, laws on marital relations, including donations by reason of marriage, legal separation, adoption, child custody and support, property division and maintenance, and spousal support, will also apply to civil partnership couples.

In the 17th Congress, the civil partnership bill failed to get pass the deliberations of its mother committee.

Apart from these measures, Alvarez also filed a measure seeking to provide for a "hybrid" national, local and ARMM elections, wherein the voting and counting at the precinct level will be manual, while transmission and canvassing of votes will be automated.

The measure, numbered as House Bill 2265, is a counterpart of a similar bill filed by Senate President Vicente Sotto III in the Senate. — BM, GMA News