Buencamino is a fellow of Action for Economic Reforms. This was published in the September 8, 2010 edition of the Business Mirror, page A6.

You can’t stay married in a situation where you are afraid to go to sleep in case your wife might cut your throat. – Mike Tyson

Two female legislators filed a bill to add divorce to the current menu of remedies for failed marriages. They said existing remedies do not meet the needs of some couples because legal separation does not allow remarriage while annulment is out of reach to all but a few who have money and the patience to go through with it.

Several colleagues of the sponsors and the Catholic Church immediately turned on the bill.

Rep. Roilo Golez said divorce is a weapon of mass destruction that married couples can use against each other “even for petty, solvable marital problems.” He even added some sociology to his argument. “Look at what’s happening in other countries with divorce. Half of my classmates at Annapolis (US Naval Academy) ended up divorcing a few years after they got married, many because of flimsy reasons by their own admission.” It appears that Golez discounted the possibility that those divorces might have been because of the Annapolis diploma and not the divorce law.

Rep. Elpidio Barzaga restated Golez’s WMD argument. “It would also encourage married couples who have differences to immediately seek divorce, though differences can still be reconciled.” Unfortunately, he threw the Bible into the debate, “I still adhere to the biblical saying that what God had joined together, let no man divide it.”

So what happens to other religions that allow divorce, are we going to pass laws exempting them from the existing law? Oh I forgot; we already have it for Muslims. But there are other people besides Muslims and Catholics, what happens to them? I don’t know about you, but I think the reason why we have the separation of Church and State in our Constitution is to prevent some people from using the State to impose their religious beliefs on others.

The Catholic Church also spoke out against the bill. Fr. Melvin Castro, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops Conference (CBCP) Episcopal Commission on Family and Life said, “The legal remedies for marriages in distress are more than enough under existing laws. Marriages in difficult situations cannot be addressed by new legislation.”

In other words, legal separation is okay but not divorce which is the same thing except that it allows remarriage. So why didn’t Fr. Melvin just spell out why he and his church are against allowing separated couples to remarry? Are they punishing those people for a mistake or for a crime? Is remarriage a no-no because it might produce repeat offenders?

As to the good priest’s other statement – “Legalization of divorce will create more marital problems” – well, that’s simply ass-backwards causality. Happily, the good priest is not alone; Rep. Ben Evardone has a similar problem with cause and effect.
“Legalizing divorce might encourage or promote destruction of families,” he said.

Fr. Melvin has still another congressman for company. Rep. Romero Federico Quimbo also believes that the current laws are sufficient. However, I’m not sure Fr. Castro would agree that unhappy couples, the poor in particular, are mental cases. “The solution is not to make dissolution easier through divorce. The State should spend more resources counseling and advising couples especially the poor who don’t have access to psychiatrists,” said Quimbo. The honorable congressman may not know it but, more often than not, the sanest thing to do is to file for a legal separation or divorce.

I respect the learned opinions of those opposed to the divorce bill but I maintain that it’s wrong to make it difficult for irreconcilable couples to go their separate ways and worse, to prohibit them from marrying again. It is cruel and inhuman to deprive anybody of the chance to right a wrong and to start anew. The right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness must not be sacrificed on the altar of perfection, permanence, and religion.