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Oct 01st
Home Sections MiscellaNEWS An Alternative to Ending Civil Marriages Without Calling it "Divorce"
An Alternative to Ending Civil Marriages Without Calling it "Divorce" PDF Print E-mail
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Sections - MiscellaNEWS
Tuesday, 03 June 2008 23:30

(Part III of the series on Divorce, Filipino Style) 

Let us consider the case of a Filipino couple who has lived 38 years as "man and wife." When they met in 1970 the man was a bachelor but the woman was married. They fell in love and they lived together, after the woman separated from her husband whom she married before a municipal judge and later in the Roman Catholic Church (RCC).

This common-law couple even lived in the United States, where the wife obtained a divorce, so as to permit her first (former) husband to marry validly his own common-law wife (the marriage was necessary for US immigration purposes). But this couple (in our case study) refused to get married. The common-law husband reasons out that he and his wife remain as Filipino citizens and it would be the height of hypocrisy to get married in the United States when existing Philippine laws do not recognize the divorce and marriage in the first place. The couple refuses also to seek an RCC annulment of the wife's first marriage because the same option is not given to the poor in the Philippines and in the United States. This couple has been blessed with children and grandchildren. In fact in a few years, they may become great-grandparents and still they would probably remain as common-law spouses.

Perhaps instead of filing a divorce bill in the Philippine Congress, our legislators could turn around potential RCC objections by amending the existing marriage laws. Right off the bat, here's a thought: There should be a legal prescription (statute of limitations) over the "non-existence" of a marriage, after all a marriage is a contract. I'm sure that we have enough brilliant legalists in the Philippines to find a suitable way out, short of pronouncing the word divorce.

A friend of mine who saw this manuscript said that I should use an analogy. Like comparing the marriage contract to prescription medicine that has the expiry date. If the medicine is not used on or before the expiry date, well it has expired and the drug is thrown away. And if the same medicine is needed, then a new prescription is written and taken to the pharmacy to be filled out. This friend suggested that perhaps marriages should be for a specific period or length of time. For instance, the marriage as a contract may be legislated to last only for five years and on the fifth anniversary, the couple -- if they want to continue the marriage -- simply fills up a renewal form that is good for another five years. The renewal can go on and on until death finally makes the spouses part from each other. This idea sounds revolutionary. But what do you, readers, think?


What any pundit should find objectionable is when a public-office seeker is married yet maintains concubines.What I am saying is the law should render null and void a marriage contract that has not existed in the physical and material sense after a given period of time. This law should enable any of or both the contracting parties to nullify the original contract by petitioning a civil court. After the court nullifies the original contract, the parties involved would then be free to enter into another marriage contract.

Such legal prescription (pursuant to a statute of limitations) should get around this highly-explosive issue of a divorce bill in the Philippines and would perhaps render the issue more palatable to the RCC and other Christian churches.

I also find it terribly objectionable that a person seeking public office should be castigated because he or she is not legally married to the person he/she loves particularly if the relationship is more-than 30-years old. No person in possession of a good intellect or who is in his right mind could ever pronounce that such an enduring relationship is not moral. On the contrary, to me it is a relationship worthy of the highest esteem.

What any pundit should find objectionable is when a public-office seeker is married yet maintains concubines. The reasonable assumption is that because if that public-office seeker cannot be faithful to his wife, then how can he remain faithful to the public he promises to serve? Well, this is a topic that can be the subject of another column, right?



To read the earlier parts of this series, please click on these links:

Getting Out of a Bad Marriage: How Some Filipinos Do It


Divorce (sic) in RP Is Only for the Rich, the Famous and the Influential


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Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 February 2009 04:58

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