I would like to consult about the nature of the business of my former friend. We used to engage in the business of buy-and-sell of automobiles but after an unresolved feud, we parted ways. While I am still engaged in this business, my former friend has now moved to the business of matching and marrying Filipinas off exclusively to foreigners through some sort of a dating agency with a website. I am not comfortable with my former friend’s business as it seems to me that it is like a prostitution scheme.
Is her kind of business legal? I’ve heard that we have laws banning such business. Can she be imprisoned because of this? Please enlighten me.
Based on your narration, it appears that your former friend is engaging in the business of matching Filipino women for marriage to foreigners. This act is prohibited, and is considered unlawful under Republic Act (RA) 6955 or the Anti-Mail Order Bride Act of 1990. Its complete title expresses and summarizes the coverage of this law, which is:
“AN ACT TO DECLARE UNLAWFUL THE PRACTICE OF MATCHING FILIPINO WOMEN FOR MARRIAGE TO FOREIGN NATIONALS ON A MAIL ORDER BASIS AND OTHER SIMILAR PRACTICES, INCLUDING THE ADVERTISEMENT, PUBLICATION, PRINTING OR DISTRIBUTION OF BROCHURES, FLIERS AND OTHER PROPAGANDA MATERIALS IN FURTHERANCE THEREOF AND PROVIDING PENALTY THEREFOR.”
In detail, this law enumerates the following acts that are considered to be unlawful, to wit:
“Section 2. Pursuant thereto, it is hereby declared unlawful:
(a) For a person, natural or juridical, association, club or any other entity to commit, directly or indirectly, any of the following acts:
(1) 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;
(2) To advertise, publish, print or distribute or cause the advertisement, publication, printing or distribution of any
brochure, flier, or any propaganda material calculated to promote the prohibited acts in the preceding sub-paragraph;
(3) To solicit, enlist or in any manner attract or induce any Filipino woman to become a member in any club or association whose objective is to match women for marriage to foreign nationals either on a mail-order basis or through personal introduction for a fee;
xxx” (Sec. 2, RA 6955, Emphasis supplied).
As clearly specified in the above-cited provision, engaging in the business of matching Filipino women, along with the acts of advertising this service and inducing membership to such associations is prohibited by law and is considered as a crime. And since it appears that the nature of the business of your former friend fits the description of illegal activities in the Anti-Mail Order Bride Act, it is imperative that you report these activities to the proper authorities, so that the same may be investigated thoroughly and prosecuted if the evidence warrants the filing of appropriate actions.
On the penalty imposed for these illicit activities, the law states that any person found guilty by the court to have violated any of the acts herein prohibited shall suffer an imprisonment of not less than six (6) years and one (1) day, but not more than eight (8) years, and a fine of not less than eight thousand pesos (P8,000) but not more than twenty thousand pesos (P20,000). (Sec. 4, Ibid.)
Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.
We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to email@example.com