Friday, March 18, 2005

divorce and question marks

QUESTION 1:

WOULD AN ABSOLUTE DIVORCE LEGISLATION BE PURSUANT TO THE TEXT, CONTEXT AND SPIRIT OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES?

Article II, Section 12 of the Constitution, in nonetheless than the declaration of principles, very expressly and even categorically says that the State shall strengthen the family as a basic autonomous entity. Furthermore, the very first Article of the Family Code of the Philippines provides that marriage is an inviolable social institution.

How could absolute divorce strengthen the Filipino family? How would absolute divorce make the family an inviolable social institution? It is a big sophism and an untenable rationalization to say that by destroying the family, it is strengthened; by dividing the family, it is made inviolable!

The undeniable fact is that it is precisely the absence of absolute divorce in the Philippines that has kept millions of couples together in joy and in pain, that has saved practically innumerable families from breaking apart. The law on absolute divorce already threatens to violate the marriage vows for life even before these are pronounced.


QUESTION 2:

WOULD IT STAND REASON AND LOGIC TO CLAIM THAT CIVIL ABSOLUTE DIVORCE IS AFTER ALL PRACTICALLY THE SAME AS MARRIAGE NULLITY DECLARATIONS AND MARRIAGE ANNULMENTS?

The present Family Code of the Philippines has already provisions for nullity and annulment of marriage — in addition to legal separation. A nullity declaration means that a marriage is ab initio null and void. Marriage annulment on the other hand means that a valid marriage is voided or invalidated. Absolute divorce however means that a valid and non-voidable marriage is still dissolved. These three actions against a de facto marriage actions are definitely not the same, neither in significance nor implications.

If it is argued that the effects are the same, this is tantamount to saying that deaths by sickness or old age, by accident or lethal injection, by torture, massacre, terrorism are all the same. This is ridiculous to say the least as far as the causes of death are concerned, ranging from the obvious to the vicious.

The truth of the matter is that for humanistic reasons if not for purposes of convenience or hedonistic intents, there appears to be the insidious attempt to break and dissolve Filipino marriages by any and all possible means, whatever the costs to the family, to the community, to the Country. If one is not content with legal separation, try marriage nullity. If nullity is not possible, go for annulment. And, now, if even annulment is not viable, file for absolute divorce. With all these possibilities of getting rid of the reality of factual marriages, the question may be legitimately asked: Why get married at all? Would plain and open cohabitation be then the better option for men and women “in love”?


QUESTION 3:

WOULD IT BE CONSONANT WITH THE DICTATES OF REASON AND THE PRINCIPLES OF JUSTICE TO REWARD WITH A DIVORCE DECREE NOT ONLY THE VICTIM BUT ALSO THE CULPRIT ACCORDING TO THE PROPOSED GROUNDS FOR ABSOLUTE DIVORCE?

It is said that an absolute divorce may be obtained on the grounds of drug addiction, homosexuality, sexual perversion among many other envisioned possible causes. In any of presence of any of these factors causative of divorce, the freedom to remarry favors not only the victim but also the culprit.

The disturbing but surely meritorious question is this: If the culprit is still allowed to remarry, then all his or her subsequent re-marriages are all open and subject to divorce. Reason: A divorce grant does not cure drug addiction, neither reverses homosexuality nor correct sexual perversion.

Or is it rather the simple matter of alimony or financial support imposed on the guilty spouse? Is such were the case, the moneyed people are favored as they are capable of giving as much money demanded by as many “ex wives” or “ex husbands” and “ex-families” possible. And what if the spouse proven guilty cannot afford to pay the imposed penalty? Would this party be also allowed to remarry as well, allowed to divorce again, and thereby again allowed to leave his or her spouse and the children without financial support?


QUESTION 4:

WOULD IT BE UNREALISTIC TO ASK THE DIVORCE PROPONENTS HOW MANY DIVORCES CAN ONE HAVE, HOW MANY HOMES CAN ONE BREAK, HOW MANY CHILDREN CAN ONE LEAVE BEHIND?

The question really is how many marriages may one enter into and how many divorces may one thereafter obtain.

A spouse guilty of any of the divorce grounds does not have the best credentials to enter into another marriage. This is especially true on the ground of adverse personality constitution or ingrained character flaw which is certainly not cured by all absolute divorce grants.

The spouse-victim on the other hand who unforgivingly and perhaps even vindictively acted against the other with the full force of the law in order to have an absolute divorce, may not claim neither excellent personal credentials for a re-marriage. The truth is that when seriously traumatized by an errant and erratic former spouse, the said spouse-victim becomes sadly unprepared for another marriage. And considering that another and another marriage and another and another divorce are all possible, the same spouse-victim is not helped by such indefinite possibilities.


QUESTION 5:

WOULD THE ENACTMENT OF AN ABSOLUTE DIVORCE LEGISLATION REALLY PREVENT PHYSICAL VIOLENCE, MARITAL INFIDELITY, SPOUSAL ABANDONEMENT AND OTHER SIMILAR MARRIAGE MALADIES AS ENVISIONED BY ITS PROPONENTS?

Would that they do! But the truth is that it may in fact even inspire what it intends to prevent or deter. It is definitely not improbable that when a couple is tired or simply disgusted with their conjugal life, one of them would deliberately physically abuse the other, intentionally commit adultery or actually abandon the other. Why? Precisely to prepare and provide a ground for divorce!

In other words, what the divorce proponents might want to prevent in order to stabilize marriage—such as physical abuse, marital infidelity and spousal, abuse could be the very reasons that would in fact destroy marriages. And this is not funny.


QUESTION 6:

WOULD IT BE JUSTIFIED TO ACCEPT THE PROPOSED ABSOLUTE DIVORCE LEGISLATION ON THE PREMISE THAT IT IS NEITHER HARD NOT COSTLY TO OBTAIN —COMPARED TO MARRIAGE NULLITY AND/OR ANNULMENT?


Has the issue been simply relegated to what is easy or hard, cheap or costly to obtain? What is easy and cheap to obtain, does not necessarily make it right. In the same way, what is hard and costly to have, neither necessarily makes this wrong. The truth is something easy and cheap to have, can be readily held suspect.

If a marriage is ab initio null and void, why make it hard or costly for spouses to get a nullity declaration. And as far as civil law is concerned, if the marriage is voidable, why make it also difficult and expensive for them to have an annulment?


QUESTION 7:

IT IS CORRECT TO CLAIM THAT THE ABSOLUTE DIVORCE LEGISLATION IS THE LAST RESORT TO FREE COUPLES FROM IMPOSSIBLE MARRIAGES.

If the intention is simple to free couples from already unbearable marriages, the recourse is legal separation, not absolute divorce. If the design is for a couple to get rid of one another for purposes of remarriages, their divorce is the wrong means to an equally wrong end: Wrong means because this would make them liars when they pronounce their marriage vows, and wrong end because they would have to enter into but a temporary remarriage by precisely subscribing to absolute divorce.

Regarding impossible or anomalous conjugal relationships such as in the case of sex maniacs or sexual addicts, psychopaths and sociopaths, behavioral deviants, emotionally unstable and any other duly identified grave mental disorder, once proven by experts that any of these has been existent at the time of the wedding, then legal separation, marriage nullity or annulment is the recourse—not divorce.


QUESTION 8:

WOULD IT BE TOO IDEALISTIC AND THEREFORE UNREALISTIC TO ASK FOR MARRIAGE VOWS FOR “BETTER OR FOR WORSE,” FOR “RICHER OR FOR POORER,” IN “SICKNESS AND IN HEALTH.” UNTIL “DEATH” DO THE SPOUSES PART?

To say “yes!” to this question is contrary to the salient fact of millions of successful marriages that were entered into with these indivisible and indissoluble vows across the centuries—compared to the number of “broken marriages.”

To say “yes!” to this question is to ultimately get married for convenience, viz., marrying only for the “better”, for “richer”, in “health”. Otherwise, marriage becomes inconvenient and the couple concerned should logically get rid of it.

To say “yes!” to this question is to openly and clearly explain to every child born of the marital union that he/she has but temporary parents, has but also temporary family. Otherwise, no child should be allowed to be born at all from the marriage!


QUESTION 9:

IS IT CORRECT TO SAY THAT THE PROPOSED ABSOLUTE DIVORCE LEGISLATION HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE CHURCH, AND THAT THE CHURCH SHOULD THEREFORE NOT INTERVENE IN THE MATTER?

Since when did the Church concern herself only with “churchy” maters, simply with Catholics, merely with Church marriage? The obligations of parents, the rights of children, the stability of society are valuable realities irrespective of race, color and creed.

When couples would violate their marriage commitment, when parents would renounce their care for the family they brought into being, when children would grow in a confused and confusing domestic environ—which absolute divorce infallible causes—the Church may not pretend to see nothing, say nothing and do nothing, whether those concerned are Catholics or not. The Church is obliged to say and uphold the truth that marriages are sacred and inviolable, irrespective of the religion of those married and of their children.


QUESTION 10:

WOULD IT BE INCONGRUOUS TO ASK WHY SO MUCH IS BEING OPTED AND PROPOSED BY THE LEGISLATIVE AUTHORITY ON HOW TO REMEDY “BROKEN MARRIAGES” WHICH PRACTICALLY NOTHING IS SAID AND PROPOSED TO STRENGHTEN MARRIAGES AND PREVENT MARRIAGE FAILURES?

1. Age

Should very young people be allowed to marry and thus coming themselves to a very adult, serious and permanent way of life such as marriage? Physiologically tender, psychologically unprepared, emotionally unstable and usually financially incapable, are the ready for marriage?

2. Livelihood

Should people—specially men—even if they be advanced in age, be allowed to get married if they have no regular jobs, no viable means of livelihood, and in fact unable even to support themselves?

3. Health

Should physical and especially mental health, psychological stability and emotional maturity be simply left to presumption when people want to get married? Should there not be even but a minimum of expert check on these very basic personality features, upon which the success or failure of marriage by and large depends?

4. Post Marriage

Should those already married be simply left to themselves to live their conjugal life, to raise their children, to maintain their means of living, and the like? Would there be no legislation on family housing, family wages, family guidance and counseling?

5. Broken Marriages

Is absolute divorce the one and only answer to broken marriages? And if it is claimed that absolute divorce after all is not compulsory but only for those who want it, then the argument can be said that the legalization of bigamy and/or polygamy is all right, after all it is not mandatory and only for those desirous of practicing it.

To date the Philippines is already beset with many serious social liabilities such as wide-spread poverty, proliferation of crimes, apparently futile search for peace and order—not to mention the loosing fight against drugs, gambling, prostitution and AIDS to mention but a few. There are also broken families where the ultimate victims are the children who are either abandoned, made pawns and/or origin of fights between the spouses, particularly so when these already go to the Civil Court for redress that usually proves very unpleasant if not even actually very traumatic for the little ones.

The approval of the divorce legislation in the country will simply add more socio-moral problems and legal difficulties to our already seriously problematic situation. It is not enough to say that the legislature approves it even by an “overwhelming majority”. What is intrinsically moral or immoral is never simply subject to majority rule—as if what is fundamentally wrong ipso facto becomes basically right by the voice of the majority. D

Would our legislators then subject to debate—for legislation purposes—if there is or there is no God, if the Commandments should be made more or less, if the Gospel and/or the Koran is right or wrong?!



O.V.CRUZ, DD
February 28, 2005