(Published in the column 'From My Viewpoint' on VIEWLINER PUBLICATION September 22-28, 2014 Issue)
The Philippines and the Vatican City are the only states in the globe without a law on divorce. The absence of a law on such here is probably the most apparent manifestation that marriage is highly regarded in the Filipino culture being a predominantly Christian Catholic.
Most filipinos believe that marriage is meant to last forever as vows normally include the phrase ‘till death do us part.’ But what if forever is not meant for a lifetime?
All the rest of the countires have found a way to solve the problem by enacting a law on divorce. Divorce is a legal action between married people to terminate their relationship. In the Philippines, there are many unhappy and failed marriages and the legal remedies available to them are declaration of nullity, legal separation and annulment. Although efforts have been introduced in the Congress for a law on divorce, these have been challenged by many religious groups.
Under our present legal system, a marriage is adjudged to be valid from the start cannot be terminated under any ground. This, nothwithstanding, there exist the remedies of nullity and annulment which both legally sever marriage ties. In nullity, a spouse seeks to prove that the marriage is void dating back to the time of its celebration, while in annulment, the spouse must establish that the marriage is afflicted with a legal defect that is exisiting when marriage was formalized. In legal separation, the spouses are only allowed to be physically separated, but their marital ties remain as they are not free to marry another.
Article 36 of the Family Code states that marriage may be declared void by any party if at the time of the celebration, one spouse is ‘Psychologically Incapacitated’ to perform marital obligations. This Article 36 is dubbed by many as the ‘unofficial Filipino divorce law.’
Congress latest attempt to pass a law on divorce was in 2011. It was referred to the Committee on Revision on Laws on January 2011. Sadly, the 2011 Congress adjourned without the bill being passed. Sadly indeed.
‘Everybody deserves a new beginning.’ This is not just a statement of a shallow idea. It has truth in it, especially on failed marriages.
Understandably, people have a negative perception on persons who had come from a bad relationship. The biblical passage that says ‘...what God has joined together, let no man put asunder’ still reverberates in the culture of Juan dela Cruz. The said bible verse is found in the Gospel of Matthew, supports the church’s stand on marriage.
Clearly, the church teaches the marriage is ordained by no less than God Himself. It is God who is the author of marriage. Therefore, the phrase “God has joined together” speaks that God himself is actively pursuing ordination of the sacred activity of marriage. And the latter phrase ‘let no man put asunder’ explicitly declares that the ultimate objective of marriage is one of permanance.
This lead me to the question ‘are all marriages authored by God?’ One can no longer close his eyes to the present sociological realities that many people enter into a contract of marriage with less noble intentions such as convenience, money, sex, power and other ill motives far from love. Hence, I find the idea that God is the author of all marriages absurd.
God cannot be a part of any ill motive design in marriages. A Holy God cannot support or encourage a marriage founded on intentions that are not pure.
In consideration of the present realities, the hypothesis that all marriages are authored by God should be visited by our theologians, moral philosophers and even our law makers. One should understand that a law on divorce will surely include legal grounds (that should be satisfactorily proven in court) in order for divorce to be obtained and safeguards so it will not be abused.
To the person who nullified his or her marriage (under our present law of course), here is my message. Start picking up pieces of your life and stop doing self-pity and blaming yourself. Do not be afraid to fall in love again for love is sweeter the second time around. Though be extra careful this time in choosing the person whom you will give your heart. Today, you are free as the birds in the sky... be abundant in life. And never....never stop loving, for love makes the world go round.
Often recalcitrant, but always principled.