In 2015, the head of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines backed the statement by Pope Francis that marriage separation is vital when domestic violence is experienced by one party.
CBCP President and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said separation is needed to save the lives of the victims of violence inside the home of a family. However, he said that this does not mean that the Church is totally for marriage separation because there are other ways to solve marital problems such as marriage counselling.
Villegas has opposed the passage of a divorce law in the Philippines, saying divorce only encourages a married couple to no longer work out their differences. Pope Francis earlier said in a weekly general audience that sometimes marriages are so damaged that it is “morally necessary” for a husband and wife to separate.
“There are cases in which separation is inevitable. Sometimes it can become even morally necessary, precisely when it comes to subtracting the weaker spouse, or small children, from more serious injuries caused by arrogance and violence, by humiliation and exploitation … and by indifference.”
The exception is for the Muslim population of the Philippines, who are in fact able to obtain divorces; and this demonstrates an obvious lack of separation of church and state within the Philippine government–which is heavily influenced, if not almost completely controlled by, the Catholic Church. This goes against the notion of human rights.
If a citizen of the Philippines were afforded the opportunity to re-marry abroad after a reasonable period of separation from their spouse–such as five to ten years–they could then enjoy a level of dignity and pursuit of personal happiness that is an integral part of any just society. The United Nations should put forth a measure or law of some sort at an international level by which a citizen of the Philippines who meets certain requirements regarding separation from their spouse cannot be denied the right to re-marry based solely on never having had annulled their marriage in the Philippines; that this separation be recognized as equivalent to a complete dissolution of marriage should the citizen make a wholehearted declaration of intent to move on with their life.