‘Don’t be a sore loser, accept divorce bill’

Sheila Crisostomo - The Philippine Star
�Don�t be a sore loser, accept divorce bill�
Lagman said “more than adequate and extended time” was given to “interpellate and expound” on the detractors’ opposition to the divorce bill.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman yesterday described as “sore losers” those who continue to question the newly-approved House Bill (HB) 9349 or the Absolute Divorce Act.

Lagman said “more than adequate and extended time” was given to “interpellate and expound” on the detractors’ opposition to the divorce bill.

And yet, he noted the “more vociferous detractors are sore losers as they continue to trample on the clear and well-accepted rule on the reckoning of the winning votes.”
“An ordinary bill like reinstituting divorce needs the approval on third reading of only at least a majority of one more affirmative (yes) vote over the negative (no) votes when there is a quorum, while the abstentions are not considered in the counting as they are neither ‘yes’ nor ‘no’ votes,” Lagman added.
The lawmaker underscored that the majority of the entire membership of the House or the majority of the quorum is “Not required for the approval on third reading of a simple divorce bill.”
He cited Section 117 of Rule XVII, of the Rules of the House, provides “An abstention shall not be counted as a vote.” It stated that “Unless otherwise provided by the Constitution or by these rules, a majority of those voting, there being a quorum, shall decide the issue.”
“Whether the winning margin is 126 to 109 as initially reported or 131 to 109 as later corrected by the Office of the Secretary General does not affect the ultimate legality of the final approval of the divorce bill,” Lagman said.
He maintained that the “Engrossed copy of the divorce bill must be transmitted without further delay to the Senate.”
This, Lagman points out, is the mandate by the House on the Secretary General.
For him, whatever inconsequential correction can be reported to and acted upon by the Plenary when the Congress opens session on July 22.
“It is completely baseless to assert that a ‘sacramental marriage’ or church wedding will not be covered by a future divorce law. A church marriage is recognized as a civilly valid marriage under the Family Code and is regulated like civil marriages by the secular laws on marriage,” Lagman added He undescores that it is “Hypocritical for the church to seek recognition of canonical dissolution of marriage, which is akin to civil divorce, and yet reject the coverage of a divorce law on church marriages which are recognized civilly.”

Lawmaker questions vote number changes

Another congressman who has been opposed to HB 9349 has questioned the increase in the affirmative votes for the controversial measure from 126 to 131 votes.

In a statement, Leyte Rep. Richard Gomez said the House secretariat had already “recorded and announced” during the plenary on May 22 that the bill got 126 affirmative, 109 negative and 20 abstentions.

However, the voting was changed to 131-109-20.

“I am puzzled about the changes in the number of lawmakers who voted ‘Yes’ to House Bill No. 9349… from 126 to 131, but now they are saying that there was an error in the counting. How did that happen?” Gomez said.

He added there were not enough votes to implement the divorce bill.

The lawmaker said, in his personal assessment, he believes that the approval of the divorce bill was lost when it failed to get the majority approval of the lawmakers present when it was put to a vote.

“For me, as we speak, HB 9349 has not been approved on third and final reading,” Gomez added.

This, as former deputy speaker and BUHAY Partylist representative Lito Atienza admonished the Senate not to join the “congressional bandwagon” and reject the bill because it “will destroy the Filipino family which is the genuine strength of our nation.”

“We have been through such political and economic trials and have always survived because of the Filipino family. The separation of some couples should not affect the welfare of the entire nation,” Atienza said.

He urged the lawmakers to study the Constitution, claiming that this will be violated if the bill is made into law.

Atienza underscored that the Constitution, under Article XV, Sections 1 and 2, recognizes the Filipino family as the foundation of the nation and that marriage, “as an inviolable social institution, is the foundation of the family and shall be protected by the State.”

“Children should be protected from the negative impact of having separated or divorced parents,” he added.

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