Philippine bill recognizing church annulment gets House approval

The House of Representatives in the Philippines recently approved a bill which recognizes church annulments to be of the same decree as that of a court annulment, paving the way for easier marriage dissolution in the country.

(REUTERS / Dondi Tawatao)Legislators from the upper and lower house of the Philippine congress attend a special session on the extension of martial law at the House of Representatives in Quezon City, metro Manila, Philippines. July 22, 2017.

House Bill 6779 got House approval during its third and final reading on Tuesday, Jan. 30. The measure stated that church or religious annulment of marriages will have the same ramifications as decrees of annulment issued by a court and thereby allows the spouses to remarry, CNN Philippines detailed.

In addition, HB 6779 requires church annulments to be documented in civil registries within 30 days of issuance. As for the status of the children conceived from that marriage, it shall be determined by the Family Code.

Moreover, the bill provides that there should be a public document detailing the agreement between the spouses regarding the liquidation and distribution of their property and the custody arrangements. If there is no agreement, the provisions of the Family Code will be followed.

Under the Family Code of the Philippines, the grounds for annulment of marriage include psychological incapacity for marriage, fraudulent marriage consent, forced marriage consent, non-consummation of marriage, and undisclosed and incurable sexually transmitted diseases.

HB 6779 was authored by Deputy Speaker Gwendolyn Garcia, Reps. Nancy Catamco, Yedda Marie Romualdez, Emmi de Jesus, Arlene Brosas, Arthur Yap, Carlos Zarate, Ariel Casilao, and Antonio Tinio.

Back in December, Garcia said marriage can either be invalidated or annulled by the church as it is validated by the laws of a certain religious sect. Romualdez echoed the thought and said it was only right that church decrees on marriages that are recognized by the state should also be binding, The Manila Times relayed.

Fr. Jerome Secillano of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines noted that Pope Francis had signed a decree a few years ago that certified that church annulment could also be an administrative decree.