MANILA, March 9 (Xinhua) -- More than half of Filipino adults surveyed favor legalization of divorce for "irreconcilably separated couples," an independent poll released on Friday said.
A nationwide survey by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) conducted Dec. 8 to Dec. 16 last year asked 1,200 Filipinos by face-to-face interviews to respond to the statement, "Married couples who have already separated and cannot reconcile anymore should be allowed to divorce so that they can get legally married again."
"53 percent agreed, 30 percent strongly and 23 percent somewhat, and almost 32 percent disagreed. 15 percent were undecided on the matter," the SWS said in a statement.
The SWS said this gives a net agreement score of +21, classified by SWS as moderately strong.
In the surveys, it said 50 percent of the respondents are men, and 50 percent are women.
The Philippines is the only country in the world other than the Vatican that still outlaws divorce.
The Family Code of the Philippines currently provides two ways for couples to separate - legal separation and annulment. However, the legal separation will not sever the marital bond and the annulment will take a long time and cost a large amount of money.
As of 2017, the SWS said an average 33 percent of the men are married, 7 percent have live-in partners, 7 percent have never married, and 3 percent are singles who are either widowed or separated.
Among women, it said 29 percent are married, 9 percent are singles who are either widowed or separated, 8 percent have live-in partners, and 4 percent have never married.
Support for the legalization of divorce used to be split when SWS first surveyed it in 2005, 43 percent agreed, 12 percent were undecided, and 45 percent disagreed.
"The same question was asked for the second time six years after in 2011 and obtained moderately strong support. When it was asked for the third time three years after in 2014, it went to very strong and stayed at moderately strong up to 2017," the SWS said.
Last month the House Committee on Population and Family Relations submitted a divorce bill that would legalize divorce in the Philippines.
Under the bill, married couples may end their marriage for several reasons, including abuse, infidelity, and irreconcilable differences.
Lawmakers have been trying to legalize divorce in the Philippines for almost three decades but to no avail.
The Catholic Church in the Philippines has long opposed any laws that allow divorce, calling them "anti-marriage and anti-family."