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OFWs in HK back marriage separation

MAJORITY of overseas Filipino workers in Hong Kong have expressed support for the passage of various
bills pending consideration by the House of Representatives that will cut short the often costly and
lengthy annulment process to end a rocky marriage.

In a first of a series of dialogues held last Sunday, at the Philippine Consulate General
office, the OFWs warmly received the various proposals for severance of marriage bonds, including House
Bill (HB) No. 6027 of Speaker Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez.
    
Deputy Speaker Pia Cayetano who led the delegation said that while some spouses eventually
manage to solve their marital woes with the support of friends, family or church, the proposed measures
are intended to help those who were not able to do so.
    
Some 200 OFWs in Hong Kong, mostly women, attended the public consultation with Consul General
Bernardita Catalla presided by Laguna Rep. Sol Aragones, chairperson of the House committee on
population and family relations.

“Iba ho ngayon ’yung Kongreso natin kung inyo hong mapapansin. Sa liderato ho ni Speaker
Alvarez marami ho kaming ginagawa na alam naming ito ’yung tama’t praktikal, ito ’yung naaayon sa
panahon, ito ’yung realidad. Kahit medyo ayaw ng iba gagawin natin ito dahil ito ’yung kailangan ng
tao,” said Deputy Speaker and Batangas Rep. Raneo Abu.
    
“From the point of view ng OFW, dalawang bagay lang ho: bukod sa mahirap ang mahal-mahal ng
mag-apply for annulment.Dapat pantay-pantay po lahat, hindi lang ’yung mayayaman and pwedeng mag-
divorce,” said Atty. Daisy Mandap, representing  the OFWs publication The SUN.
    
Cynthia Abdon, manager of Mission for Migrant Workers, noted that they regularly accept cases
of women migrants and out of the estimated 2,000 cases there are about 8 to 10 percent involving
marital issues.
    
“We have a case where she was able to single-handedly send their children to school and build a
house in the land of the relatives of her husband. With her responsibility done, she’s now seriously
considering what her future is, considering that her husband is now cohabiting with another woman in
the house she built with her own sweat,” Abdon said.
    
The United Filpinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL) said in their position paper that according to their
data many of the OFWs have marital problems and majority are worried about the effect of termination of
marriage on the properties they acquired through their hard work over the years.
    
Other Filipino groups in Hong Kong that supported the proposals for termination of marriage
include Philippine Association of Hong Kong, Global Alliance Hong Kong, Gabriela (Hong Kong), Filipino
Ministerial Fellowship International, Hong Kong Musician’s Union.
    
However, the Chaplaincy for Filipinos opposed divorce, saying it would lead to abuses
especially on women and it would encourage infidelity among spouses.
    
Jun Concepcion of Radio TV Hong Kong also asked the lawmakers if they have the political will
to pass the bill and resist the expected backlash from the Catholic Church.
    
Earlier, Alvarez said he was prompted to file his bill because during his practice of law many
of his clients were women trapped in broken marriages and asking for help to start their lives anew. He
said that in his travels abroad, many of the OFWs have similar problems and they want a better process
for termination of marriage than annulment.
    
Cayetano said it’s the job of Congress to provide an option for spouses trapped in broken
marriage but the decision remains in their hands whether to avail of this option or not.
    
“Our job is to provide the legal instrument na pwede ninyong gamitin kung sakaling
kakailanganin ninyo,” Cayetano said as she thanked the OFWs who participated in the public
consultation.
    
Aside from Cayetano, Abu and Aragones, other lawmakers who took part in the public consultation
in Hong Kong include Reps. Ma. Lourdes Aggabao, Teddy Baguilat, Jr., Emmi De Jesus, and Aniceto Bertiz
III.