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Thursday, June 13, 2024

About time

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Legislation must answer the need of the times and not be imprisoned in the archaic thinking of those who profess to be guardians of morality

Countries which have historically been the seat of Christianity, even Roman Catholicism, have long legalized divorce.

There are very Catholic countries in Europe and Latin America which even give Church holidays legal effectivity, yet they have legalized divorce.

Except for Vatican City, which is a sovereign state inside Rome, the Philippines is the only other country where divorce is not allowed, and only legal separation or church annulment, both of which are tedious and quite expensive to undertake, are allowed.

Though this singular distinction compared to the rest of humanity is not a valid reason for us to allow couples to legally file for divorce, the mere fact that we still make it so difficult for estranged and relationship-suffering couples to call it quits, just shows how our political leaders are in denial of reality, and prefer moral pretense instead.

That is why it is about time Congress approved the passage of the Absolute Divorce Act.

Through the dogged advocacy and legislative effort of Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, the House finally passed the landmark legislation on third and final reading.

Hopefully, the Senate, as resolutely sponsored for years by Sen. Risa Hontiveros, and supported openly by Senators Imee Marcos, Pia Cayetano, Grace Poe and Raffy Tulfo, will pass it into law before its adjournment prior to the 2025 election.

Senate President Escudero has taken issue with the House version due to the lack of provisions that would allow indigents to avail themselves of the services of the Public Attorney’s Office in seeking divorce.

We agree with his position on making divorce affordable to the poor, and it should be placed in the Senate version which I suppose many senators will support as well.

The advocates of divorce in our country precisely point to the inaccessibility and un-affordability to many who want to have their marriages dissolved.

Church annulment is limited to cases where the couples can prove they were incapacitated psychologically or physically to begin with, an ab initio ground for dissolution of the marriage vows.

Legal separation is also quite tedious and requires lengthy court proceedings the poor, and even the middle class, cannot afford.

But many marriages result in a partner, especially the females, having to suffer through a failed union, affecting even the well-being of their children.

Many “Catolicos cerrados” will insist on the absolute inviolability of marriage, which the Roman Catholic Church considers a sacrament, and contrary to the teachings of their religion.

But our Constitution, now and before has always upheld the separation of Church and State and, therefore, what may be “morally unacceptable” to a religious group need not be rule for all.

Medievalist thinkers in our present Church leadership simply will not accept what they consider as a “transgression of Christ’s sovereign will,” to quote from Dagupan-Lingayen Archbishop Socrates Villegas’ recent pastoral letter where he sanctimoniously stated being the only country without legal divorce, should be considered “a badge of honor, a mark of distinction.”

One wonders what gives supposedly celibate leaders of the Roman Church the right to pontificate on relationships they themselves have not experienced.

They would rather that couples who cannot co-exist in a sham relationship continue to suffer for the sake of “moral” pretense.

We hope and prayour senators, even those facing re-election next year, will not tremble in fear of the “negative influence” of the close-minded in the numerous church, and instead pass long-needed legislation that will free legions of Filipinos from the bondage of failed marriages.

Legislation must answer the need of the times and not be imprisoned in the archaic thinking of those who profess to be guardians of morality.

***

I just got back from a very relaxing foreign trip yesterday, aboard a PAL flight whose Airbus has seen better times and cannot compare to those of the more modernly-equipped air carriers.

As always the gracious smiles and solicitous attention given by its flight crew makes up for the inconvenience of its old planes.

But in two recent trips, I noticed that luggage tagged “priority” at the airports of origin are not given the priority our baggage crews (once in NAIA One, and even another at Clark International) should render.

Yesterday, my friends and I had to wait the longest for ours to come out of the tube, after all others had already left.

If that is what our NAIA baggage handlers call “leveling the field.” that should be alright by us, but foreign visitors were chafing at the incident.

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