Filipino Catholics join a "Walk for Life" in Manila in February to voice their concern over proposals to legalize divorce and abortion in the country. (Photo by Angie de Silva)
A proposed law that would legalize divorce in the predominantly Catholic Philippines is as good as dead once it reaches the Senate, according to Upper House lawmakers.
Several of the country's senators vowed to kill the bill, which passed the Lower House of Congress this week.
"In effect it is dead," Senator Panfilo Lacson said. "We are a Catholic country and we are not ready for [divorce]."
In the Philippines, a bill has to pass through the Senate before the president signs it into law.
President Rodrigo Duterte, whose first marriage was annulled, said he was against divorce "for the sake of the children."
A survey by Catholic radio station Veritas 846, however, showed that most Filipinos favor the legalization of divorce.
Out of 1,200 respondents of the nationwide survey, 39 percent "strongly agreed" that divorce should be legalized while 35 percent "strongly disagreed."
The survey, which was conducted from December 2017 to January 2018.
Aside from the Vatican, the Philippines is the only country that has no divorce law except for Muslims.
Senator Richard Gordon said the proposed measure goes against basic law, which states that marriage is an "inviolable social institution."
He said that instead of legalizing divorce, "a more appropriate way is to find a solution to unstable marriages."
Boxing champ-turned-senator Manny Pacquiao, a born-again Christian, said divorce is not the answer to a failed marriage.
"We have a law on annulment, why pass a divorce law?" he said.
The result of the survey is a wake-up call for the Catholic Church in the Philippines, said Father Anton Pascual, president of the church-run Veritas 846 radio station.
"This is a wake-up call and a big challenge to the Catholic Church, especially because many of the faithful are in favor of the legalization of divorce," said the priest.
He said there is a need for church leaders to preach more about the "beauty of marriage."
Father Pascual said church leaders oppose the legalization of divorce because it would only "further weaken the bond" between couples who encounter problems in their marriage.