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Gov't alarmed over increase of Filipino-South Korean marriages

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The government has expressed alarm over the significant increase of Filipinos who marry South Koreans to seek work abroad.

Commission on Filipinos Overseas Director Regina Galias said the number of Filipinos, mostly women, who marry South Koreans almost doubled from 809 in 2008 to 1,551 in 2009.

Statistics from the CFO also show that as of 2009, there are 7,746 Filipinos with South Korean partners.

"Naaalarma kami sa increase... Ito ang binabantayan namin kasi madami kaming na-discover na ang intent ng pagpunta sa South Korea ay hindi para magkapamilya pero para magtrabaho [We are alarmed at the increase... We are closely monitoring the situation because we have discovered that their intent in going to South Korea is not to have a family but to find work]," Galias said in an interview.

Galias said most of the Filipino-South Korean couples were introduced through a "broker," a person who recruits Filipinos to marry foreigners.

She added that there are syndicates who urge Filipinos to marry foreigners instead of getting a work visa because it is cheaper.

"We're working at how to resolve the problem on brokers," she said.

Under Philippine laws, "brokers" face violations of Republic Act No. 6955 or the Anti-Mail Order Bride and R.A. 9208 or the Human Trafficking Law.

Galias, however, noted the need to amend R.A. 6955 to give more teeth to the law which she said lacks provisions on the protection of foreign marriage victims.

R.A. 6955, passed in the 1990s, punishes violators with P20,000 penalty and six to eight years imprisonment.

"Napakaluwag ng batas na 'yan. Gusto naming magkaroon ng ngipin ang batas. It's a way of protecting the integrity of Filipinas [The law is too lenient. We want the law to have teeth]," she said.

She said the Philippine Embassy in Seoul will sign this month a memorandum of agreement with South Korea for the protection of foreign marriage migrants.

Latest figures from the CFO show that the United States remain as the top destination of Filipino emigrants, followed by Canada, Japan, Australia, Italy, New Zealand, Germany, United Kingdom, Spain, and South Korea.

Galias said South Korea has replaced Norway in the top 10 partly due to the increase in the number of Filipinos marrying South Koreans.

Meanwhile, the number of Filipinos with foreign partners is highest in the United States, followed by Japan, Australia, Canada, Germany, South Korea, Taiwan, United Kingdom, Norway, and Sweden.

By Janice M. Cave




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