MANILA (UCAN): “I was surprised at the speed at which the committee accepted the bill,” said Father Jerome Secillano, reacting to the approval of the Marriage Dissolution Bill by the House Committee on Population and Family Relations of the Philippine Congress on February 6.
“I was expecting exhaustive deliberations and discussions would be conducted on the measure,” Father Secillano, the executive secretary of the public affairs office of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines said, adding that the public deserves to know what is in the bill.
The Catholic Council of the Laity of the Philippines had earlier issued a statement expressing opposition to the divorce bill. It said the catechism of the Church clearly provides that divorce is “immoral” because it introduces disorder into the family and into society.
“This disorder brings grave harm to the deserted spouse, to children traumatised by the separation of their parents and are often torn between them,” its statement read.
“It is our hope, therefore, that the Philippines shall forever stand as a beacon of hope for the family and society,” it said.
Bishop Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon, described the acceptance of the proposed measure as alarming, saying, “I hope Congress will not approve it. More family problems will be created with divorce.”
Father Melvin Castro, spiritual director of the group Pro-Life Philippines, said “exhaustive discussion” on the issue should have been carried out.
“With the sensitivity of the issue and the magnitude of its effects, Congress should allow open, honest and exhaustive discussion and debate on the issue of divorce,” he said.
Deputy speaker, Eddie Villanueva, a Christian pastor and head of the Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption Party, objected to the approval of the bill.
“The passage of a divorce bill is practically unnecessary,” said the legislator.
“First, it does not address the high cost of litigation and slow-grinding disposition of cases, which are the real problems encountered by those seeking relief from troubled marriages. Second and more importantly, it is in clear defiance of God and to the constitution because it will terribly degrade the sacrosanct nature of marriage as an inviolable institution,” he pointed out.
Aside from the Vatican, the Philippines, is the only state that does not have a divorce law.