Sen. Risa Hontiveros (Photo from

Sen. Risa Hontiveros is again pushing for the passage of a bill allowing divorce in the Philippines, after failing to get enough support in the previous Congress.

Hontiveros, the lone legislator from Akbayan party, filed the Divorce Act of 2019 ahead of the opening of the 18th Congress later this month.

She said it was time for women trapped in abusive relationships to “get the real chance to turn the page.”

The Philippines is the only country in the world that does not allow divorce, not counting Vatican City. Philippine laws allow the declaration of nullity of marriages or legal separation.

Hontiveros, in a statement, said her measure seeks to make “psychological incapacity of either spouse,” “irreconcilable marital differences,” marital rape, or being “separated for at least 5 years” grounds for divorce, among others.

“This measure is for all. However, I want to stress the importance of protecting women from being trapped in abusive relationships and the need to provide a legal mechanism for that protection,” she said.

Citing the Philippine Statistics Authority, Hontiveros said that in 2018, one in four women experienced spousal violence.

“The passage of a divorce law is one of the ultimate forms of freedom we can give Filipino women. When we give them the real chance to turn the page, we allow them to return to safe and nurturing homes they can call their own again. We believe that this is real respect for the sanctity of family and marriage,” she said.

“It is our duty to protect the well-being and quality of life of our people, especially our women. A lack of legal options has tied wives and husbands to toxic pasts even when they have long been separated. Filipino women and families deserve a second chance to live good lives,” she added.

Last year, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) urged pro-divorce legislators to seek consultations with their constituents and experts.

“The fact that we’re one of the last few countries without a divorce law until now speaks volumes about us as a nation. No doubt, those who associate divorce with being progressive would laud our legislators who are currently raring to pass a divorce bill in Congress. With due respect to them, we beg them to make room for more reasoned debates on the issue,” it said in a March 2018 statement.

“The social costs that go with an easy recourse to the dissolution of a marriage when couples begin to face the difficult challenges of marital love and commitment are what we ask our legislators to consider seriously,” said Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles, the CBCP president. (