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Mainly Catholic Philippines takes step to legalize divorce despite Duterte’s opposition

Muslim Times (Web Desk) – The lower house of Congress in the Philippines has passed a law that would make divorce legal in the mainly Roman Catholic Southeast Asian country.

The Absolute Divorce Bill was passed in a Monday session of the House of Representatives with 134 votes in favor, 57 against and two abstentions.

President Rodrigo Duterte and some lawmakers have been opposed to the bill. Lawmakers argued in the Monday debate that the bill would lead to more couples separating instead of trying to fix their problems. Bishops also say that allowing people to dissolve marriages would be a disrespect of religious principles.

Duterte, known for his battle against drugs in the Philippines, has on several occasions said that he is concerned about the welfare of children whose parents divorce.

Congresswoman Emmi de Jesus, however, said lawmakers had filed the bill to respond to increasing demands of women who wanted to get emancipated from abusive husbands or those wishing to end failed relationships.

“It is not at the president’s bidding that we file legislation,” said Emmi, making a reference to Duterte’s opposition to the bill. She said that to make divorce completely legal, the legislative process should “take its course.” The process requires Philippines’ upper house Senate to pass a counterpart bill, which has yet to be drafted.

Polls have shown that Filipinos are becoming increasingly supportive of legalizing divorce.

The Philippines and Vatican are the only two states in the world without a divorce law.

More than 53 percent of respondents to a last year survey by Social Weather Stations, an independent pollster in the Philippines, were in favor of legalizing divorce.

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