Miriam backs divorce bill, renews wedding vows

Posted at 06/20/2011 9:49 AM | Updated as of 06/20/2011 7:12 PM

MANILA - She renewed her wedding vows in one of the country's biggest churches, with no less than a Catholic cardinal officiating. But Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago expressed support for the divorce bill and reiterated her push for the reproductive health (RH) bill, two measures that the Catholic Church strongly opposes.

Santiago, who authored the RH bill in the Senate, said she doesn't see her faith and advocacies clashing.

She said that weeks ago, she wrote a letter to Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales to explain that she is a very committed Catholic who freely chose her religion and even studied theology.

Rosales officiated at her wedding on Sunday at the Manila Cathedral, which was attended by prominent figures in politics and business.

"I'm just trying to exercise my freedom of conscience," Santiago told reporters after her wedding reception at the Manila Hotel. "I'm not fighting for myself or for any political agenda. I'm fighting for the oppressed Filipino poor woman."

The senator said she believes Rosales would understand her support for the RH bill, and that he does not have the capacity to hate.

"I'm sure I will have their love as I traverse the perilous journey towards the RH bill," she said.

Santiago, who said she believes in marriage as an inviolable social institution and thus never cheated on her husband, also threw her support behind a proposal to introduce divorce in the Philippines.

She said allowing a couple to get divorced is better than making each other miserable. "I think that divorce should be available to people who become homicidal at the sight of each other," Santiago said.

Not as cheesy

Santiago and her husband, former Interior Undersecretary Narciso Santiago, renewed their vows during their 40th anniversary.

She said giving each other space was the secret to their strong marriage.

"My husband is completely free. He's a liberated man," she said "I don't care where he goes at night. He doesn't have to call me with his itinerary."

However, Santiago said they're no longer as cheesy as before. In fact, they refused to kiss even when their wedding guests clinked their glasses during the reception.

"Maybe if I was 20 years younger ... it would be endearing to kiss in public. To do that at my age, I think, would just be disgusting," she said, laughing.

Santiago said it's unlikely she and her husband will renew their vows again during their golden anniversary in 10 years because of her failing health.

Asked if they will have another honeymoon, Santiago laughingly said no.

"I'm not a blushing bride," she said. "I'm a veteran wife."