Lenses by UPDC: Should we legalize divorce in the Philippines?

The debate on whether or not divorce should be allowed in the Philippines has been around for a very long time. Even as of now, the only legal courses of action for married couples are annulment and legal separation. Back in 2008, a divorce bill managed to reach the Philippine Senate but failed to gain enough support along with another 2010 bill which only went as far as the House of Representatives. Today, the resurgence in this policy debate has become evident even in the aftermath of the recently concluded 18thcongress where the bill was still met with strong opposition despite the growing support for it. This issue hits very close to home for many Filipinos since broken families and occurrences domestic abuse along with other grounds of divorce have all been so historically prevalent. Moreover, the Philippines is one of only two countries in the world apart from the Vatican that still doesn’t allow divorce as a means to preserve the sanctity of marriage. This feature aims to explore the main contentions in favor of divorce as well as against it.


  1. There are many valid reasons for couples to wish to end their marriage ranging from vitiated consent and adultery. However, the current alternatives are simply not enough. Firstly, annulment only considers cases where the marriage contract never existed in the first place or is “void ab initio”. These grounds do not encompass the totality of situations that push couples to look for ways to get out of a relationship and the process of annulment is also extremely costly and time-consuming. For many average people, this alternative is extremely inaccessible and leaves them with no other choice but legal separation which is also insufficient because it doesn’t allow either of the separated parties to remarry afterward. This still makes it impossible for people to freely live the lives that they want to live and find happiness in a marriage that could work better for them.


  1. Currently, Filipinos have no good way out of abusive relationships. The victims of domestic violence deserve a chance to have a fresh start and live a life separate from their partners that have caused them so much pain and suffering. Many times, the person you marry isn’t the same after a few years. They may develop problematic behaviors that can cause serious harm such a being abusive. Annulment doesn’t allow for a safe exit from this since the marriage was legally valid in the past, and legal separation still doesn’t allow victims to fully move on from their trauma due to the fact that they will never be able to re-marry and start over by getting a second chance to live the lives that they wish to live.


  1. The sanctity of marriage is at the very core of our society and culture. It defines us and the values that we want to preserve as Filipinos. We do agree that there needs to be protection for people who wish to get out of bad marriages, but we can’t support legislation that could potentially devalue marriage and family as institutions that are important to society. Legal separation is enough since it allows for the protection of both parties, their property, and even their children while still preventing re-marriage. Even in cases where the marriage in itself is invalid due to factors that make it impossible for one or two parties to consent, we still have annulment and we can work to make the process more efficient and accessible to the masses.


  1. If we allow for the divorce bill to become a law, then we encourage more people to resort to divorce instead of working out their problems within the family just because this option is available. When this becomes more prevalent, then the negative effects of broken families will be felt by so many families and especially the children. The extreme harms that come out from the legalization of divorce are just simply not worth the benefits of giving more people the freedom to live their lives the way they want to. We want people to prepare and put a lot of thought into everything even before they get married to someone. Their rights to leave the marriage are less important than the rights of their children and other dependents to live a good life in a complete family.


This debate feature is the second installment article of many to be released in partnership between the UP Debate Circle (UPDC) and Daily Guardian. Here, we objectively explore real-world issues that are up for debate by presenting possible arguments formulated by debaters of the UPDC.

The goal of these features isn’t to promote a specific perspective or to provide a conclusion to the debatable issue, but instead to present opposing viewpoints in an easily-to-understand manner. The perspectives presented do not reflect the actual beliefs of the Daily Guardian, the UPDC or its debaters.