I chanced upon this article from the famed Patricia Evangelista and found it very much aligned with what I had in mind. I think I am just a sucker for second chances, especially when I see friends with lackluster lives and constantly settling for whatever it is that they have now. I bet a lot of people are against my vote to legalize divorce, but maybe this article can make them understand why I chose such a stand.
All highlighted lines are by yours truly.
Deliver us from evil
Next to the unhappy wives of the Republic of Malta, population 410,000, only one other country can claim to be affected by the results of last month’s non-binding referendum on divorce. Malta’s contentious approval of the legalization of divorce leaves Catholic Philippines the only nation in the world without the right to freely divorce – with the exception of the Vatican.
Malta may be cause for celebration for the progressives, whose champions lost no time pushing House Bill 1799 to the House committee on revisions, but it is also a reason to give thanks to the Lord God, at least according to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.
“Being the only country in the world that has no divorce law is an honor that every Filipino should be proud of.”
Archbishop Oscar V. Cruz said that love for the family was at the core of the cultural identity of Filipinos, and should not be destroyed through divorce.
“That is a distinction! I’m very proud of that!” he said.
It is not a surprise that the Philippines remains alone in its exercise of national irresponsibility, as it also remains one of the few democratic nations to claim that a condom is a murder weapon, and that the preaching of abstinence will stop the hormonal manifestations of the Catholic God’s temple of the spirit. Pride in the Filipino culture does not pay for the education of children whose fathers regularly beat their wives. Perhaps Cruz refers to the Catholic Church, whose breast-beating sons of the cloth can now stand tall among the world’s priests as the only nationality able to beat back progress, even the possibility of progress.
It has never been particularly difficult to spout morality in Manila, largely because politicians hold the same patronizing view of the Filipino citizen. For the Church, legalizing subsidized contraception means that every virginal pair of legs will open along with the possibility of abortion, prostitution and the gates of Gomorrah. Now, with the possibility of divorce, suddenly every couple will separate to “ultimately tear up society.”
“On a personal life of prayer,” says CBCP secretary general Monsignor Juanito Figura, “‘deliver us from evil, Amen.’”
To allow the Filipino a choice implies that the Filipino will go the way of evil. Choice is dangerous to the Filipino, who cannot think for himself, who cannot weigh the values of family and sanctity. It is the priests who know better, because God says they do. It is the politicians who know better, because they think they do. Senate Majority Leader Tito Sotto, for example, who says those pushing for the legalization of divorce are attempting to weaken the Church, believes that Filipino couples should not be given options.
“If there’s a divorce law, couples facing some minor problems may choose not to work on their marriage anymore.”
Cagayan de Oro Representative Rufus Rodriguez takes it further. All couples will divorce. All children will belong to single parent families. All society will suffer. He cannot allow a law that “opens the floodgates for all to get divorce.”
“Children will grow up with only one parent. That’s the worst punishment we can give to our children.”
It is not a surprising stance from the Catholic Church, whose inability to differentiate free speech from religious intolerance airs live on national television at debates over the Reproductive Health bill. Men and women cannot be trusted to do what is right, yet they are expected to make no mistakes. It is a ridiculous stance for politicians to take. The Filipino, they imply, has the intelligence to decide on who runs the nation and the implications of value-added tax, but they cannot be trusted to decide on who they marry and when to have sex. For a secular nation that recognizes the rights of Muslims enough to allow them separate laws – including divorce – it is the height of discrimination to deny that right to Buddhists, Christians, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Catholics of varying persuasions whose gods are not necessarily the same as the Old Testament tyrants the CBCP seems to uphold.
Many of divorce’s proponents talk about spousal battery and the rising numbers of abused women. Although Cruz claims that the Church is willing to void marriages that prove battery, he forgets that only the wealthy have the capacity to spend the P300,000 necessary for an annulment. Even if an indigent woman has the means to secure an annulment, many do not, for fear of being left unable to support themselves and their children. The divorce law makes this a legal requirement to divorce. And still, even with its own concession that battery is an exception, the Church continues on by claiming that abuse is in itself not such a heinous act.
“Why would a husband beat his wife? We have discovered again that it’s a vicious circle and poverty is the biggest reason why a husband would beat his wife. Unemployment is also another reason. These are all social concerns that the government should address instead of coming up with remedies which are just temporary, band-aid remedies.”
The murderer may have killed because of poverty, and the thief may have stolen in aid of a dying mother, but they are thieves and killers just the same.
Bills such as these are distractions, claim the Church. They do not prioritize the true cancers of society: poverty, corruption, prostitution. This is the same Church whose accusations of a lack of proper prioritization by the government come hand in hand with its declaration that the rape of a young girl by her father is less offensive than the abortion committed to save her life. Yet these bills are not in themselves meant to be answers to national concerns. Divorce does not solve poverty; neither does contraception. The RH bill may curb overpopulation, but it is not the only reason. More than the resolving of national interests, the state’s responsibility as a democracy is to protect individuals from discrimination, even from the state itself.
The ills of divorce, and they are manifold, are not for the government to weigh. It is for the wife, the husband, the children, whom the government now considers unable to make these decisions. The penalty for a wrong decision at the age of 20 should not mean a lifetime with an unsuitable husband. The right to live freely is fundamental to a citizen of democracy, and for as long as these rights harm none and are not against fundamental laws.
Although the gentlemen of Congress may find it crude, that right implies the right to pursue happiness: to have sex when it is consensual, to leave adulterous husbands and nagging wives, to determine lives that are not at the service of anyone’s God but their own.