MANILA, Philippines - House leaders said Monday that the passage of the "Filipino-style" divorce bill will not happen in the 15th Congress. Speaker Feliciano "Sonny" Belmonte Jr. and House Majority Leader and Mandaluyong City Rep. Neptali "Boyet" Gonzales II said that while the House leadership moved for the termination of the debates on the highly-divisive Reproductive Health (RH) bill, it is not keen on approving House Bill 1799 or "An Act Introducing Divorce in the Philippines."
"We will attempt to finish the debates on RH bill. But I don't think we can pass the divorce measure," Belmonte said.
Gonzales said if the House would push for the two bills which are opposed by the Catholic Church and a number of lawmakers, their move might be perceived as a "declaration of war" against the Catholic Church.
"Divorce bill will not be passed this 15th Congress, not now. If we move for its approval along with the RH measure, parang nagdedeklara kami ng giyera sa Catholic Church," he said.
But Gabriela party-list Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan, who authored HB 1799 along with Gabriela Rep. Emerenciana de Jesus, said they would continue to campaign for the bill to have it approved, citing her readiness to re-file the measure, which is still pending in the House Committee on Revision of Laws. "Let us not keep our country in the dark ages. I appeal to my colleagues in Congress to let the legislative mill run its course on the divorce bill without further delay and give Filipino couples in irreparable and unhappy marriages this option," said said.