The people of Malta, reported to be more than 90% composed of Roman Catholics, said “yes” to divorce in the 28 May 2011 referendum. A number of matters came to mind upon reading the news articles on this referendum.
First, this doesn’t mean that only the Philippines has no divorce law at this time. The Malta referendum is “non-binding” in nature. As reported by the BBC, the Maltese voters were asked “whether parliament should introduce a new law that would allow couples to obtain a divorce after four years of separation.” The Maltese parliament still has to pass the law. Moreover, Vatican City, known as a state within a state and the seat of the Holy See, has no divorce law (but this does not, or should not, count).
Second, divorce is allowed among the Muslim population of the Philippines.
Third, contrary to any impression that the Malta referendum spurred the Philippine legislature to start its own debate on divorce (as one may interpret the TIME article), a number of proposed laws had previously been filed and debated in Congress. This is not the first time that this issue is being debated in Congress, as noted in our previous article. As of today, 75% (out of 1,314 who voted in our informal poll) voted in favor of divorce.
Fourth, it’s just a matter of time before divorce is allowed in the Philippines. As to how soon and how it would impact the institution of marriage, your opinion is as good as mine. Let the debate continue.