Didn’t you know that the Philippines had a divorce law? Some would be surprised with this statement, but if one would research on the history of the customs and practices of the Philippine tribes including past Philippine laws, absolute divorce was already practiced. Before the Spanish colonial period, certain Philippine tribes already practiced absolute divorce. Among them were the Gaddang of Nueva Vizcaya, the Igorot and Sagada of the Cordilleras, the Manobos, Bila-ans and Moslems in Mindanao, and the Tagbanwas of Palawan.
When the Spaniards colonized the Philippines, the only divorce law adopted by the government was the Siete Partidas of the Spanish Civil Code of 1889. This law only allowed legal separation. When the Americans took over, they established a system of government similar to that of the mainland. This also includes a divorce law, which was enacted by the Philippine Legislature in 1917 through ACT No. 2710. Under this ACT, divorce was allowed on grounds of adultery.
ACT No. 2710 was repealed by Republic Act No. 386 or the Civil Code of the Philippines enacted on June 18, 1949. Articles 55 to 67 of the Civil Code only allowed legal separation based on two causes: first, adultery on the part of the wife and concubinage on the part of the husband; and second, an attempt by one spouse against the life of another. The deliberations of the Civil Code included absolute divorce, but was substituted with legal separation.
During the Martial Law years, former President Ferdinand Marcos instituted a Code of Muslim Personal Laws on February 4, 1977. Title II, Chapter III of Presidential Decree No. 1083, popularly known as the Code of Muslim Personal Laws dealt on divorce or talaq. But divorce was allowed only between Muslims.
Divorce was allowed on the following grounds under the Revised Family Code. On July 17, 1987, Executive Order No. 227 was signed into law by the late Corazon C. Aquino. Article 26 of the Family Code was amended to wit:
“Article 26…Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall have capacity to remarry under Philippine law.”
Many bills on divorce between married non-Muslim Filipino men and women have been filed up to the present time in Congress. Deliberations on divorce bills have been contentious issues in the Philippines, being a predominantly Catholic country that does not sanction divorce. At present, the Philippines and Malta are the only two countries having no divorce law between marriages contracted by its citizens here or abroad.
a. ACT No. 2710
Official Gazette volume 15, number 14, page 580
(Issue date: April 4, 1917)
2. REPUBLIC ACTS
a. Republic Act No. 386 (Hard Copy and On-line Official Gazette)
i. Official Gazette Supplement (Hard Copy)
Volume 45, number 6
(Issue date: August 1949)
ii. On-line Official Gazette
b. Presidential Decree No. 1083 or the Code of Muslim Personal Laws
(On-line Official Gazette)
B. URL Websites: