SEPTEMBER 17, 2019 – The ban on divorce in the Philippines only allowed scammers and con artists to take advantage of married couples breaking up, a resource person told senators on Tuesday.
Speaking in the first Senate hearing on divorce-related bills, independent journalist Ana Santos said these money-making schemes only underscore the need to pass the proposed measure to protect couples from deception.
“The ban on divorce has not ensured the happy even after we wanted for ourselves, rather it has spawned legions of scammers and con artists who prey on the desperation of the heartbroken and those people…who simply want to move on with their lives,” she said.
Citing findings from her investigative report, Santos said there were fake lawyers who ran away with their client’s money after consultation. There were also courts that manufacture annulment proceedings and decisions in wholesale quantities.
“They simply copy paste the different types of different scenarios under which marriages break down and they just change the names of the couple involved,” Santos said.
She also noted that the so-called “diploma mills” along Recto Avenue in Manila now offer “all sorts of annulment decisions.”
“I tested the theory myself, I was able to purchase for P500 an annulment decision saying that I was once married to Bradley Cooper,” she narrated.
“There is a complex web of corruption forgery and duplicity surrounding this divorce ban and it just compounds the pain and the anguish of those who are heartbroken and just want to legally severe their marriage,” she furthered.
PRONE TO EXPLOITATION
Santos, who underwent annulment herself, described the proceedings as “torturously inhumane” and “pits the couple against each other,” apart from being costly.
Annulment proceedings cost at least P200,000 based on latest estimates.
Former overseas Filipino worker Marco Antonio Luna, a resource person from the Divorce Coalition of the Philippines, shared a lawyer asked him to pay the same P200,000 for the filing of annulment.
“I didn’t pursue it because I don’t believe in it. It is being exploited, even one of the milking cow of lawyers,” he said.
He also argued divorce advocates like him are not anti-family as they were victims themselves.
“I later discovered that infidelity, domestic violence, and all sorts of these bad things happening in a marriage is a form of injustice. We are seeking for justice not in a quick way, because the bills that we have right now have grounds, but in a more realistic way,” he said.
“We go through the process of trying to fix the marriage despite the fact that we know this is an injustice that is being done to us,” he added.
The Philippines is the only country apart from the Vatican where divorce remains illegal.
While Senators Risa Hontiveros and Pia Cayetano have pushed for the passage of absolute divorce, other lawmakers are still unsure of the measure.
Church groups likewise oppose the divorce bill, arguing it is harmful for the children and is anti-marriage. (Karen Macalalad/AAD)