The Filipino Times 23 July 2015
The Filipino Times
By Jojo Dass Published: July 23, 2015
Marriage break-ups on the rise
There are at least 8 annulment cases filed in the Philippines per day and an increasing number of couples in the UAE are also seeking separation remedies. Find out what is fueling this trend.
DUBAI: A significant number of Filipino marriages have been breaking up primarily due to the couples’ inability to maintain long distance relationships, interviews with officials and legal experts by The Filipino Times show.
The numbers are glaring in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, where 15 percent or almost 1,000 of the 6,500 cases attended to by Gulf Law during its monthly legal clinics from January this year were related to family matters – infidelity, annulment, divorce and child support – according to Atty.
Barney Almazar, partner at the law firm. “Sixty percent of the time, the other spouse is in the Philippines. The other 40% of our divorce cases, both parties are in Dubai,” he said. In the Philippines, annulment cases have jumped from 5,250 couples in 2002 to 10,528 in 2012, according to most recent available figures from the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), which handles the cases.
The figure was also over 1,000 cases more than 2011’s 9,133. Officials said they were expecting a continuing rise in the numbers.
Almost 5,000 Filipinos left their homes every day between 2010 and 2013 to seek work overseas in the hope of being able to send money home to feed, clothe and educate their families, according to Almazar.
“One of the main social costs of migration is infidelity and marriage annulment. The loss of ‘shared life’ among the family and the alienation of the spouse from each other are the major reasons for the dissolution of marriages,” he told The Filipino Times.
Art Los Banos, corporate communications manager who also is an elder at Couples for Christ (CFC) in Dubai, said it is “a sad reality in this part of the world that married men and women who are physically separated from their spouses left behind in the Philippines are the most vulnerable individuals to commit immorality.”
“We have a teaching in our Christian Life Program (CLP) focusing on the ChristianFamily. The core message we convey is that ‘God intended man and woman to be one, not independent individualsproducing babies, but husband and wife raising a family,’” he added.
Los Banos said CFC alsoconducts a series of Marriage Enrichment Retreats (MER). “We in the CFC do not claim that we are saints. We are all sinners who are being transformed daily by the Holy Spirit to walk towards the road less travelled, the road to holiness. It is difficult but we are always trying every day to resist temptation and avoid sinning against our spouses, children, relatives, neighbors, colleagues and, of course, to God,” he said. Los Banos has been married for 19 years.
Roy Tamano, adviser of the group Maranao Community in the UAE, said broken marriagesand families are side issues. The crux of the matter, he said, is the hard economic situation back home which compels Filipinos to join the diaspora in search of a better future for them and their loved ones.
“If the situation in the Philippines is good, why go abroad?” he said. He said the government should prioritize the plight of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who, he said, are the ones feeding the economy. Tamano however said the country may have to wait for a new generation of politicians for this to happen.
Official figures peg the number of Filipinos working abroad at over 12 million Filipinos across the world; 750,000 of them, in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Last year, OFWs sent a record high of $27 billion in remittances to the Philippines, accounting for 8.5 percent in the country’s economic growth, officials said.
Under Islamic Law, men can marry up tofour women provided they can support their needs. Meantime, Pastor Peter Dulnuan, marriage counselor with Vision Community Global Ministries, said going abroad for work is a challenge for couples, but stressed this can be overcome if they will protect what they have.
“The physical dimension of their relationship fades. But it’s all about commitment to preserving it,” Dulnuan said, adding that with today’s advancement in telecommunications and information technology that has sprang forth Skype, Facebook, emails and phonecards, doing this has become easier than 30 or 20 years ago when the only means of connectivity were cassette tapes and expensive long distance calls.
“The issue about commitment is deeply-rooted,” said Dulnuan. “It’s like a bomb waiting to blow off.”