7 Senate bets in CNN Philippines' second senatorial forum favor divorce

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 27) — Seven Senate hopefuls favor the legalization of divorce, they said during CNN Philippines' second Senatorial Forum on Sunday.

Former Interior Secretaries Raffy Alunan and Mar Roxas, former Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, former Reps. Neri Colmenares and Erin Tañada, former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay and Bangsamoro Transition Commission member Samira Gutoc all said they are in favor of divorce.

The senatorial candidates were asked the question during a portion of a program where they indicate their stand on an issue by raising a card printed with "Yes" or one with "No."

In the first CNN Philippines Senatorial Forum in December, Senator JV Ejercito, former Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Sergio Osmeña III, former Philippine National Police chief Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa and De La Salle University College of Law Dean Chel Diokno said they are in favor of legalizing divorce.

Meanwhile, Senator Paolo Benigno "Bam" Aquino IV, Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano and former presidential political adviser Francis Tolentino said they are not in favor of the measure.

While President Rodrigo Duterte himself is against legalizing divorce, the House of Representatives passed in March 2018 a bill which allows for absolute divorce – a judicial declaration which severs legal marriage bonds and allows former spouses to marry again.

It took nearly a year before a counterpart measure was filed in the Senate, with Senator Risa Hontiveros only filing Senate Bill No. 2134 or "Divorce Act of 2018" last January 17.

The bill still needs to be tackled at the committee level, before it gets debated on in plenary and passed on second and third reading. Should there be any disagreeing provisions in the versions passed by the House and the Senate, they would have to reconcile these in a bicameral conference committee before the final bill gets sent to Duterte for his signature.

Congress has only until February 8 to tackle bills before it goes on a three-month break in time for the elections. The legislature resumes work for three weeks before it closes to give way for the newly-elected Congress.

A survey conducted in early 2018 showed that half of adult Filipinos believe divorce for spouses who are irreconcilably separated should be legalized.

The Philippines and the Vatican are the only two states in the world with no divorce law.