Global Resources

Till death do us part

Publisher: Al Jazeera
Publication Date: Jan 2011
Aside from the Vatican City, The Philippines is the only country where Catholic couples cannot be granted a divorce. This episode of Al-Jazeera's 101 Look East series concerns recent efforts by the Gabriela Women's Party to reintroduce a long-dormant bill enabling married Catholics to divorce in the Philippines. Arguing that it will lead to an erosion of family values, the Church opposes the bill. The first part of the video outlines the current situation for the various actors involved in the issue, including interviews with abused women. The options open at present are limited: either they can legally separate, but the marriage remains valid; have the marriage declared void due to illegality (fraud, bigamy etc); or else have the marriage annulled, resulting in any children becoming illegitimate and all obligations dissolved. Later in the programme, a panel discusses the impact that possible divorce legislation would have in the Philippines; panellists include Luz Ilagan, a congresswoman representing the Gabriela Women’s Party and co-author of the divorce bill. Among the points raised by those in favour of the bill were that the annulment system was too expensive, too lengthy, and that needing a psychiatric assessment as evidence was a limiting factor that leads to a high level of bribery. The proposed bill is culturally sensitive, only granting divorce after five years of separation. A conservative congressman voiced concerns regarding the sanctity of marriage. Participants were divided on the level of influence the Catholic Church held in the matter.