Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Bill providing for stiffer penalties on mail-order spouse services up for PNoy's approval

A bill penalizing individuals engaged in mail-order spouse services through traditional mail or online means for profit is now awaiting President Benigno Aquino III’s approval after the two houses of Congress agreed on its final version before adjourning sine die on June 6.
The proposed Anti-Mail Order Spouse Act provides for stronger measures against unlawful practices, businesses, and schemes of matching and offering Filipinos to foreign nationals for purposes of marriage of common law partnership.
Its enactment into law will repeal the existing Republic Act No. 6955, also referred to as the Anti-Mail Order Bride Law, which only prohibited matching a Filipina bride with a foreign husband through traditional mail.
Under the approved measure, it shall be unlawful for any person to match or offer a Filipino to a foreign national for the purpose of marriage or common-law partnership with the intent of making a profit from the scheme.
Specifically, the bill prohibits matchmaking for profit through mail-order, personal introduction, email or websites.
Exempted from the bill’s coverage are legitimate dating websites which are aimed at connecting individuals with shared interests in order to cultivate personal and dating relationships.
Should the measure be signed into law, any individual found guilty of engaging in mail-order spouse services will face a 15-year jail time and a fine ranging from P500,000 to P1 million.
Any person who shall abet or cooperate in violating the law will suffer the same penalty.
If the prohibited act is committed by a syndicate or committed on a large scale, the offender shall suffer a 20-year imprisonment and a fine of P2 million to P5 million.
A syndicate is deemed to have engaged in mail-order spouse services if the modus is carried out by a group of three or more persons conspiring or confederating with one another. The prohibited act is deemed committed on a large scale if committed against three or more persons, individually or as a group.
Any person who has knowledge of the commission of the unlawful acts and profits from it or assists the offender in profiting from it shall be punished as an accessory even if he or she has no direct involvement in violating the law. The offense shall be punishable with a 10-year imprisonment and a fine of P100,000 to P500,000.
If the offender is a foreigner, he or she shall be immediately deported after serving the sentence and payment of fine. He or she shall also be banned for entering the country forever.
Should corporations, clubs, establishments or similar entities are found to have violated the measure, the penalty shall be imposed upon the owner, president, partner, manager, or any responsible officer who participated in the commission of the prohibited acts or who shall have knowingly permitted or failed to prevent its commission.
The court may also suspend or revoke the license or permit to operate in the Philippines of the advertising agency, newspaper and magazine publisher, television or radio station, Internet websites, or other entities who commit any of the prohibited acts. —Xianne Arcangel/KBK, GMA News

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