Malacañang: Duterte against divorce bill

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 19) — Malacañang on Monday finally revealed President Rodrigo Duterte's stand on the controversial divorce bill.

In a press briefing in Camarines Sur, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the President is against the proposed measure.

"Ayaw po sana niya mag-kumento, pero since nagbotohan naman na sa kamara, ang presidente po ay tutol sa divorce," Roque said.

[Translation: He actually didn't want to comment, but since the House has already voted on it, the President is against divorce.]

He added Duterte considered how divorce may affect the children and the distressed spouses.

"Ang sabi po niya, kawawa po 'yung mga anak, at kung magkakaroon ng divorce, mawawalan ng karapatan na magsampa ng kaso 'yung mga asawa na pinabayaan ng mga asawa nila matapos silang mag-divorce," Roque said.

[Translation: He said the children will suffer, the spouse will lose his or her right to file a case after the divorce.] 

As a presidential candidate in 2016, Duterte said he was against divorce.

The President's marriage with Elizabeth Zimmerman was annulled in 2000. He now lives with his common-law wife, Honeylet Avanceña.

The House approved House Bill No. 7303, or the Absolute Divorce Act of 2018, on third and final reading Monday.

Under the bill, once divorce becomes effective, the marriage bonds are cut and the former spouses will have the right to marry another person either by civil or religious ceremony.

The bill also makes sure the divorce process will be affordable and inexpensive, especially for poor litigants and petitioners.

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines had also voiced its opposition on the bill, asking lawmakers to consider the "social costs" that go with the easy dissolution of marriage.

The Philippines and the Vatican are the only states that have no divorce laws.

The Family Code provides two ways for couples to separate.

There is legal separation -- which allows spouses to split up, but not to remarry - and annulment, which allows spouses to remarry.

A Social Weather Stations survey last March 10 said one in two respondents believe divorce for spouses who are "irreconcilably separated' should be legalized.

CNN Philippines' Digital Producer Amanda Lingao contributed to this report.