A lot of people who read this site are foreigners who are married to Filipinas (or Filipinos). Did you know that if you belong to that group, you might be a criminal? That’s right, and it’s something I’ve known about for some time, but learned more about today. You see, back in the early 1990’s President Corazon Aquino made a Presidential Proclaimation that “Mail Order” Bride services were illegal. Furthermore, a law was enacted later in the 90’s, Republic Act 6955, the “Mail Order Bride Law”. To strengthen the fight, a few years ago the Philippines enacted a new law, which is much stronger, Republic Act 9208, the “Human Trafficking Law”. RA9208 has provisions dealing with “Mail Order” brides.
What is a “mail order” bride? According to law, any service who introduces foreigners to Filipinas for marriage is enabling mail order brides. Let’s face it, there is no such thing as a true “mail order” bride. You can’t open a catalog, place an order and have the delivery made to you. It simply is not so.
Today, I was watching a news program, “Mornings at ANC” and they had a guest, Attorney Carolina Ruiz-Austria from the UP College of Law. She is an “expert” on the mail order bride issue. In my opinion, most of what she had to say really had no basis in fact, and was frankly not very intelligently thought out.
One of the things that Attorney Austria said was that some time back, she knew a woman who came to know an Australian man over the Internet. The couple got serious, and the man proposed marriage. The woman was nervous whether the man was for real or not. The attorney advised her to check the man through the Bureau of Immigration. They found out that the man had visited the Philippines before, and he once sponsored a woman to come to Australia for marriage. Because of that, Attorney Austria said that it proved that this man was up to no good, and should not be trusted! I see nothing to not trust the man! What if he had married the first woman and she already passed away? Should that mean that he is not to be trusted? I think not.
Frankly, when two people are introduced to each other, and they mutually decide to marry each other, I don’t see how that can be considered “human trafficking” in any way, and I see no reason why it should be illegal. However, the way that the laws about this are written, it indeed is illegal!
Anyway, did you know that if you operate a website that introduces foreigners to Filipinas you are breaking the law? It’s true. That is one of the reasons that I don’t get into the whole issue here on LiP – it’s illegal! If you operate such a website, or if you even make a personal introduction, you are liable for a penalty of up to P2 Million, and even up to life in prison, if you were to be convicted! Is that crazy or what? The good news is that Attorney Austria said that there has never been a case that was successfully prosecuted for violation of this law.
I confess. I met Feyma almost 19 years ago through an introduction service. We wrote to each other through the mail (there was no internet at that time for most people), talked on the phone, and ended up coming and marrying her. Because of this, I am a criminal under Philippine law.
I hope that they don’t come and arrest me!