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A last holdout on divorce, Philippines tiptoes toward legalization

Publication: 
New York Times
Release Date: 
March 24, 2018

The Philippines is the only country in the world, aside from Vatican City, where divorce remains illegal. Under a bill approved by the House of Representatives, a wide range of reasons, including irreconcilable differences, abandonment, infidelity and abuse, would become legal grounds for ending a marriage.

The bill would need to be approved in the Senate then go to the president for review. While the Senate is required to give the measure a first reading and refer it for committee review once Congress is back in session on May 15, the conservative Senate majority leader, Vicente Sotto III, has openly opposed divorce and could delay putting the measure on the calendar.

President Rodrigo Duterte has not commented on the current measure. But during the campaign in 2016, he said he was against divorce — a stance reiterated recently by his spokesman Harry Roque. House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, one of Mr. Duterte’s closest allies and a co-author of the bill, says he is optimistic he can bring the president around.

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