House of Representatives Speaker Feliciano Belmonte on Monday threw his support behind a proposed measure allowing divorce in the Philippines which Congress would start deliberating on this week.

In a report, Belmonte was quoted as saying:

It is bound to be another one contentious bill, but let me just say that I myself is in favor of the bill. (It’s) very difficult to let the people who cannot continue to live together.

Gabriela Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan broke the news about the start of deliberations on House Bill 1799 set this Wednesday via her Twitter account.

Ilagan and fellow Gabriela Rep. Emmi de Jesus are HB 1799’s principal authors.

Addressing her colleagues in the legislature, Ilagan said in a statement:

Let us not keep our country in the dark ages. I appeal to my colleagues in Congress to let the legislative mill run its course on the Divorce bill without further delay and give Filipino couples in irreparable and unhappy marriages this option.

The divorce bill is expected to attract stiff opposition from the ultra-conservative members of the Catholic Church, perhaps as vociferous as their criticism of the Reproductive Health Bill.

Saranggani Rep. Manny Pacquiao has taken a conservative stand on both bills, echoing the sentiments of the Catholic bishops.

So far, only the Vatican City and the Philippines are left in the list of states that disallow or prohibit divorce. A third one, Malta, removed itself from the list after citizens voted for divorce in a referendum.

The House Speaker’s public statement of support for the divorce bill should result in speedy proceedings and serve as a signal to the Members of Congress he leads.

House Bill 1799 An Act Introducing Divorce in the Philippines