The Philippine government does not grant divorce. Human rights activists need to change this.
Haidee de la Guerra wears a white shirt. It says “Divorce is a human right” in English. Sometimes she likes to go to church in a T-shirt, she laughs. But the priest will certainly not be happy about this.
The woman, a 40-year-old mother of four, became serious. De la Guerra has been married for eleven years. “Our marriage was not very happy. In the beginning, yes. But the problems increased year by year. Today she is separated from her husband. She says he cheated on her again and again. “My husband had many wives. He took drugs and gambled for money. He had no stable job and depended on my family's money.
90 percent of Filipinos are Christians
At nearly 80 percent, the majority of Filipinos are Roman Catholic. There are also Christian Free Churches. The influence of the church is great: abortion is strictly prohibited and same-sex marriage is not. Additionally, self-crucifixion is still practiced today.
But Haiti cannot divorce her husband. Because there is no divorce in the Philippines. And Heidi says she can't enter into a new relationship. “It's a big sin. I'm Catholic and I respect the Ten Commandments. It clearly says you're not allowed to have an affair while you're married.”
Coalition Campaign for Divorce Rights
The Divorce Filipinas Coalition (CPC) is fighting for the introduction of a divorce law. So far, several attempts have failed, explains its Secretary General Paul Roxas. Talking publicly about a failed marriage is taboo for most people; and criticism of the Church.
Paul Roxas even had to explain his process to friends and family members: “The usual reaction: Why do you want them to divorce? Do you want to separate from your wife?”
Yet Rojas remains cautiously optimistic. He and his coalition hope that the new draft law introducing the divorce law will pass both houses of parliament. In surveys, more than half of the population now supports the right to divorce.
Alma Momongan sees it quite differently. The 50-year-old is involved in the so-called charismatic movement within the Roman Catholic Church. She boasts that the Philippines is the only country besides the Vatican that does not allow divorce. It is a good time to stand strong in the protection of God's wisdom and make their country world famous.
Even prisoners who have been in prison for more than ten or 20 years will be released one day.
Alma Momongan has been leading prayer groups and counseling couples in marital crisis for over 20 years. “I saw how God was able to mend relationships through prayer. When we don't follow God's will, conflicts happen. You know, the devil lurks everywhere.
The only way is to cost money – and there is no guarantee
At least in theory, there is a way out of marriage. But the hurdles are high, the process complicated and, above all, expensive. Haidee de la Guerra wanted to annul her marriage as if it never happened. The procedure took four years and legal fees of several thousand francs. Ultimately, the court refused to annul the marriage.
“I was hoping for an annulment. This is my last chance.” Her husband did not appear in court. The judge accused him of being biased. Heidi thinks this is unfair and compares it to the prisoners. “Even prisoners who have been in prison for more than ten or 20 years will one day be released.” Heidi de la Guerra says married people like her are not given a second chance. She was sentenced to life imprisonment.
“Wannabe pop culture fanatic. Zombie advocate. Entrepreneur. Internet evangelist. Alcohol fanatic. Typical travel buff.”