THE proposed dissolution of marriage disallows “drive thru” or “no-contest” or “quickie” divorces, one of the bill’s authors in the House of Representatives said Friday.
Opposition and Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said the substitute bill on divorce approved last Wednesday at the committee level provided that “no decree of absolute divorce shall be based on a stipulation of facts or confession of judgment,” which prohibited what he called a no-contest divorce.
“Coerced petitions and convenient collusions are also prohibited,” Lagman said.
He cited Section 12 of the bill which provides that “a spouse who is a party to a petition for absolute divorce who is found by the court to have used threats or coercion to compel the other spouse in filing the petition, and spouses who are guilty of collusion, shall be punished with imprisonment of five years and a fine of two hundred thousand pesos (P200,000.00).”
“These provisions uphold the State’s commitment to protect marriage as a social institution,” Lagman said.
Under the bill, the Office of the Public Prosecutor is mandated to conduct investigations to determine whether or not there is collusion between the spouses.
The bill specifically provides that the “Office of the Public Prosecutor in provinces, cities and capital towns is authorized and obliged to conduct investigations to find out whether or not there is collusion between the spouses in a petition for absolute divorce and shall report its findings to the proper court within six months from the filing of the petition,” Lagman said.
Lagman said the bill carried steep penalties of five years imprisonment and a P200,000 fine would be imposed on a spouse who had coerced the other into filing a petition for divorce as well as on colluding spouses.
Earlier, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, main author of the bill, appealed to the Catholic Church to respect the obligation of the government to protect the welfare of all Filipinos and desist from obstructing efforts in Congress to enact a law on dissolution of marriage and divorce.
Last Wednesday, the House committee on population and family relations approved the substitute bill on dissolution of marriage and divorce. Alvarez, estranged from his wife, is one of the principal authors of the dissolution of marriage bill.
Alvarez said he expected the dissolution of marriage and divorce bill to reach the plenary by next week and approved by the House before they adjourn on March 23.