Role of SolGen in undoing the “waste of taxpayer money” – group

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MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – A pro-divorce group has said the role of the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) in annulment cases is a “waste of taxpayer money.”

At the Senate’s first hearing on the Absolute Divorce Bill on Tuesday, September 17, Luz Frances Chua of Catholics for Reproductive Health said OSG should use its resources elsewhere instead.

“We think it is a waste of taxpayer dollars with the Office of the Solicitor General defending nullity denial cases in the Supreme Court … while GSO can focus its efforts by filing certiorari motions on them. countless rape cases dismissed by the courts, ”Chua said on Tuesday.

Some lawmakers had initially expressed support for relaxing the requirements to make legal marriage termination a “more efficient process.” Part of this is to remove GSO’s review powers over cancellation cases. (WATCH: INFOGRAPHIC: How To Get Canceled)

GSO is mandated to represent the state’s interest in protecting marriage as the primary family institution in annulment cases. The office also acts as a data repository of all cancellation cases in the country.

During the hearing, state lawyer Mary Grace Sadian said the Justice Department would reconsider the measure if there were any proposals to change the annulment process.

“Our current process delegates our prosecutors to oversee the prosecution of these cases through the courts. We will review the bill if there are any proposals to change these procedures, ”Sadian said.

Stories of abused spouses

During the hearing, several resource persons shared their tragic marital experiences and their attempts to annul their marriage, including Stella Sibonga who was forced to marry her husband at the age of 18 because he did so. got pregnant.

She said her husband was a womanizer and drinker bum who inflicted emotional scars on her to the point of making her attempt suicide. When she finally saved enough money, she applied for the cancellation, but was fooled by her first lawyer who only accepted her payment without working on her case.

Sibonga said she got another lawyer and finally granted a certificate of annulment after 5 years. But as she was about to get a copy of the certificate, Sibonga was told that GSO had filed a petition for reconsideration on her case.

“Tuwang-tuwa ako nadesisyunan…. The sakit nito, sasabihin nilang ‘di ako mabibigyan ng certified true copy [ng certificate of finality] dahil nag-motion ang Solicitor General, motion for reconsideration ”, Sibonga said.

(I was so happy that the matter was decided. Unfortunately, I was told that I could not get the certified copy of the Certificate of Finality because the Solicitor General had filed a motion for reconsideration.)

Former sailor Marc Luna explained how he did his best to save his marriage – he took over his wife after she had an affair, and even moved to another town so they could start over – but in vain. He said he was not considering seeking the annulment because he knew it was just “one of the avocados’ cash cows”.

Journalist Ana Santos told the Senate panel that her investigative reporting for Rappler revealed that the cancellation process in the Philippines had “generated a legion of crooks and con artists who prey on the despair of broken hearts.”

Change of semantics

Senator Risa Hontiveros, chair of the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality, said advocates were willing to change the term “divorce” if other lawmakers had a problem with semantics.

“The term dissolution of marriage is already acceptable to lawyers. Okay, there is divorce litigation, as long as saklaw is the foundation of second chance,Hontiveros told reporters in a media interview.

(The term dissolution of marriage is already acceptable to lawyers. This is fine with them if the word divorce is already contentious, as long as the grounds they are asking for have a second chance. [in life] is covered.)

Senate President Vicente Sotto III had earlier said that a measure with the term “dissolution of marriage” had a better chance of fighting in the upper house.

But in a separate interview, Senator Joel Villanueva, a strong advocate for the fight against divorce, said on Tuesday that he would not support the measure if the dissolution of the marriage was the same as what a divorce would offer.

“If it is the same as the divorce, pinalitan lang ng collar the same shirt, hindi tayo papayag. Equal access to the annulment and the annulment of the decision of kababayang mahirap,” said Villanueva.

(If it’s the same as divorce, and you just changed the collar of the same shirt, we won’t allow it. What our poor citizens need is equal access to cancelation.)

Besides Hontiveros, Senator Pia Cayetano has also tabled an Absolute Divorce Bill which calls for the legal termination of marriages by Philippine courts. (READ: IN NUMBERS: The nation’s state of marital woes)

The Absolute Divorce Bill seeks to move beyond psychological incapacity, lack of consent, and inability to have children, among others, as acceptable grounds for annulment.

At the 17th Congress, representatives room pass in the 3rd and final reading of the divorce bill, but its Senate counterpart was left in abeyance at the commission level due to lack of time to hear the measure. – Rappler.com


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