Despite an ongoing ban on illegal matchmaking agencies, a number of Filipino women were married to their South Korean partners as mail-order brides, according to a Philippine envoy.
In a report to the Department of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Luis Cruz said that as of April 2009, around 6,000 Filipino women met their South Korean spouses through matchmaking agencies.
“Many were quick to accept the whirlwind marriage in order to seek employment abroad and have better opportunities in life," Cruz said.
However, aside from receiving complaints about false information regarding their partner’s background, the envoy also said he has been getting reports about domestic violence against Filipina wives, noting that the abuses would often lead to abandonment, separation and divorce.
Most of these troubled marriages there, he said, were those that had been arranged by illegal matchmaking agencies.
While international marriage broker agencies are allowed in South Korea, these firms can not operate in the Philippines, he added.
“Philippine Republic Act 6955, or the Anti-Mail-Order-Bride Law, makes it illegal for a person, natural or juridical, association, club or any other entity to establish or carry on a business which has for its purpose the matching of Filipino women for marriage to foreign nationals either on a mail-order basis or through personal introduction," Cruz said.
According to the law, it is illegal for anyone “to advertise, publish, print or distribute or cause the advertisement, publication, printing or distribution of any brochure, flier, or any propaganda material" promoting the services of these matchmaking agencies.
The law also rules against the use of emails or Web sites in mail-order bride schemes.
In addition, the law requires Filipino spouses or partners of foreign nationals to participate in the Guidance and Counseling Program of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) before they can get a passport to leave the country. Certificates are awarded to those who have completed the program.
The program is designed to inform Filipinos about the facts of inter-racial marriages, as well as migration laws and support services in their countries of designation.
So far, there are only two groups that provide these counseling services, namely the St. Mary Euphrasia Foundation-Center for Overseas Workers (SMEF-COW) and the People’s Reform Initiative for Social Movement Inc. (PRISM).
However, the CFO reported that fake certificates are being peddled by the illegal matchmaking agencies, a violation of the Anti-Mail-Order-Bride Law and Anti-Human Trafficking Law (RA 9208). – GMANews.TV