By Ferdinand Patinio

(File photo)

MANILA – Presenting a genuine marriage certificate did not help a couple engaged in a sham marriage scheme evade detection by immigration authorities at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

In a statement Tuesday, Bureau of Immigration (BI) Commissioner Norman Tansingco said the victim and the suspect, whose names have been withheld, were prevented from boarding their flight to Shenzhen, China via Air Asia shortly before midnight on Feb. 28.

“The immigration officer said both the victim and the suspect acted very suspiciously when asked about their supposed marriage,” he said in a statement.

Immigration Protection and Border Enforcement Section (I-PROBES) officers reported that the female victim was unable to answer basic details about their marriage despite presenting a Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) certificate of marriage stating that they were married in a restaurant in Pasig City.

Upon inspection by the BI’s forensic documents laboratory, it was confirmed that the document presented was genuine.

“However, our officers were alert enough to be suspicious of their statements, having seen several cases like it before,” Tansingco added.

The victim later admitted that no actual wedding happened, and the marriage certificate was processed by her Chinese escort through an agent. They also admitted to having paid PHP45,000 for the processing of the genuine document with fake details.

“This is obviously another case of the mail-order bride scheme that has resurfaced recently. In this scheme, victims are made to pretend to be the spouse of a foreign national, but they end up as pseudo wives doing domestic work in their destination,” he said.

Both the victim and the suspect were turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking for further investigation and filing of appropriate cases. (PNA)