The Commission on Filipinos Overseas successfully conducted the second series of its Human, Hindi Laruan webinar themed #KasalHindiSakal via live streaming on Streamyard, Facebook and Zoom on 13 April 2021. The webinar was attended by around 140 participants and viewers from Zoom and Facebook Live representing foreign embassies, national and local government agencies, academes, faith-based organizations, private organizations and individuals.


Mr. John Nichols Ruelos
Host, CFO Officer

The program was hosted by Mr. John Nichols Ruelos from the CFO Migrant Integration and Education Division. The webinar was officially opened by Director Ivy Miravalles by providing the overview and objectives of the webinar and the importance of tackling the issues and concerns on Filipino marriage migration such as mail-order spouse schemes and human trafficking in the guise of intermarriage.

 


Ms. Mia Bisa
Speaker, CFO Officer

 

Ms. Mia Bisa shared the ‘Overview of Filipino Marriage Migration’

The first speaker, Ms. Mia Bisa, discussed the overview of Filipino marriage migration, emphasizing on the profile of Filipino marriage migrants in terms of their countries of destination, sex, and mode of introduction, among others. She also explained the mandatory pre-departure Guidance and Counseling Program (GCP) for Filipinos in intermarriage and how it is being implemented under the new normal through the Overseas Filipinos – CFO Online Registration System (OF-CORS).

 

Ms. Janet Ramos
Speaker, CFO Officer

 

Ms. Janet Ramos shared the ‘Issues and Concerns of Filipinos in Intermarriage’

Following the discussion on the Overview of Filipino marriage migration is the presentation of Ms. Janet Ramos on the issues and concerns of Filipinos in intermarriage. She enumerated the areas of concern for CFO that were observed during the facilitation of GCP such as gender-based violence specifically domestic violence, submission of fraudulent documents, age difference between partners, fixed marriages, potential cases of illegal recruitment and human trafficking, marriage of convenience, just to name a few. She also discussed the normal adjustments that any inter-racial couple would have to undergo like child rearing, financial security and management, employment, children from previous relationship/s, which may affect their relationship, etc.

Ms. Ramos also elaborated on the mail-order spouse scheme process that is being used by individuals or groups to victimize Filipinos to engage in intermarriage illegally or for a fee. According to Mrs. Ramos, these schemes are commonly done by marriage brokers or recruiters. She warned the participants of these activities, most especially during this time of global pandemic, and encouraged them to report such cases.

 

Attorney Elmar Jar Dejaresco shared the ‘Salient Features of RA 10906’

To make the participants aware of the Philippine law protecting Filipinos against mail-order spouse schemes, Atty. Elmar Jay Dejaresco discussed the salient features of the Republic Act 10906 or the Anti-Mail Order Spouse Act. He informed the participants to keep in mind the 3M’s (Matching a Marriage for Money) in identifying the mail-order spouse cases. He pointed out that matching any Filipino for marriage with money as a motive is prohibited under our Philippine law. He dissected the elements of the law: money, matching and marriage. The first element is money or other material consideration, which is the usual motive of a marriage broker. The second element is matching or offering a Filipino to a foreign national. The last element is marriage, the purpose of which is the lawful union or common-law partnership involving two parties. He also mentioned other prohibited acts such as matching for the purpose of business, promotion of such acts, soliciting or enlisting for membership, abetting or cooperation and/or being an accessory. He noted that if all 3M elements are present, such case may be penalized under RA 10906 with years of imprisonment and fines.

 


Mr. Eumarlo Tolosa
Speaker, CFO Officer

 


Mr. Eumarlo Tolosa shared the ‘1343 Actionline against Human Trafficking’

Lastly, Mr. Eumarlo Tolosa informed the participants on reporting suspected cases of mail-order spouse schemes to the 1343 Actionline against Human Trafficking. The Actionline can be accessed through telephone call, Facebook, e-mail, and website reporting. He presented the Actionline’s process flow for the received reports and its accomplishments since its creation in 2011. He also cited a convicted case on the violation of the Anti-Mail Order Bride Act handled by the CFO. The latter has already been repealed by RA 10906.

 


Photo opportunity of the host with the speakers of the #KasalHindiSakal webinar of Human, Hindi Laruan

During the Open Forum, some of the issues raised were on how the CFO is addressing the prevalence of mail-order spouse schemes; cases of couples who have not met in person; legal remedy to a case of a Filipino in an existing marriage but would want to marry a foreign national; coverage of RA 10906 specifically on same-sex partners; marriage solely for the purpose of visa extension; and online support groups recognized by the government.

The Human, Hindi Laruan webinar series aims to disseminate information and provide awareness about the various forms and channels of human trafficking and the government’s programs to fight against this crime.

The first series, Crazy Little Thing Called Love, was held last March 30. Resource speakers from the CFO, Department of Tourism and Bureau of Immigration discussed how tourism is being used as an avenue to prey on Filipinos, especially women, and the possibility of them becoming human trafficking victims in their destination country. The speakers cited cases of Filipinos lured to leave the country as tourists but were intercepted while undergoing the government’s anti-trafficking prevention measures, pre-departure programs and departure guidelines.

This year, the CFO is set to conduct webinars on illegal recruitment, labor trafficking, sex trafficking and online sexual exploitation of children for the next Human, Hindi Laruan series.


Photo-op after the successful airing of the webinar with Mr. Paul Avecilla, Mr. John Nichols Ruelos, Ms. Mia Bisa, Ms. Kathleen Faye Ruga, Mr. Eumarlo Tolosa, Ms. Janet Ramos, Atty. Elmar Jar Dejaresco and Dir. Ivy Miravalles