Pinoys in Japan back divorce bills

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Cayetano (middle) with two other Filipino lawmakers

LIKE their kababayans in Hong Kong, Filipinos in Tokyo have also expressed overwhelming support to the proposed measures to allow divorce in the Philippines, Deputy Speaker Pia Cayetano told Hong Kong News.

On the sidelines of the opening ceremony for the exhibit of Ifugao art pieces at the Hong Kong University, Cayetano said that in the recent consultation of members of the House of Representatives in Tokyo, Filipinos there expressed their overwhelming support to the measures.

“It is interesting that their issues are similar but very different because most OFWs in Japan are married to Japanese nationals so their concern is exactly Article 26 and 13 of the Family Code, which is called relative divorce that allows every Filipino who is married to a foreigner to be free to marry if a foreign spouse divorces her,” she said.

Cayetano said the bill that she filed in Congress was still unable to address the concern and so it would have to be amended.

“They are overwhelmingly supportive of the divorce bills, if not more so because some 27,000 or 80 percent of 35,000 registered marriages between Filipinas and Japanese ended up in divorce and yet a very low number of those Filipinas were able to avail of that because of the requirements in our law that prevent them.

“Just like in Hong Kong, it’s the cost and the difficulty of filing it in the Philippines because Article 26 allows them to remarry but they have to prove so many things and that’s the hindrance,” she said.

Despite strong opposition from the religious sectors in the Philippines, Cayetano said she has noticed changing of attitudes among Filipinos.

“Even among my colleagues when I was telling them to look into this, and I think that only some of them are not really convinced especially when they hear what happens to our OFWs who would candidly and without reservations share their personal stories, I think a lot of them are convinced,” Cayetano said.

She added that women, in general, were more supportive of the divorce bills.

“One of the main reasons why a divorce would happen in family is because a woman is abused whether it’s physically or emotionally so I note that a lot of women lawmakers can understand and relate to that,” she said.

In October, eight members of the House of Representatives  came to Hong Kong and met with Filipinos living and working in the city for a consultation on seven pending bills that seek to amend EO No. 29 or the Family Code of the Philippines introducing measures on the dissolution of marriage and absolute divorce.

The consultation, held on Oct. 1 at the Philippine Consulate General, saw hundreds of Filipinos, majority of them women, expressing their support for divorce in the Philippines. This support was apparent from eight out of 10 resource persons and speakers who gave their view on the issue. Arguments for the measures included the prohibitive cost of seeking annulment of marriage, as well as the complex process of securing one.

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