Probe online marriage annulment scam, SC tells NBI
The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the National Bureau of Investigation to probe offers being made online to arrange marriage annulments.
Court Administrator Raul Villanueva, in a letter addressed to NBI Director Medardo de Lemos, said his office had received “disturbing information” about unscrupulous individuals offering such services.
“They even present their services as ‘100 percent legit’ or that it is perfectly above board,” Villanueva said.
“We request your agency to immediately investigate this matter and help unmask those behind this despiteful scheme so that they can be appropriately dealt with and, if so warranted, prosecuted. This we ask to prevent the proliferation of this kind of unlawful activity,” he said in his letter to the NBI.
In annulment proceedings, which can be complex and time-consuming, the court conducts several hearings to evaluate the evidence and arguments presented by both spouses. It may involve presenting witnesses, experts and documentary evidence to support the ground for annulment.
A declaration of nullity of marriage applies to marriages which are void or are considered as having never taken place. On the other hand, annulment applies to a marriage that is valid until otherwise declared annulled by the court.
Villanueva particularly cited a Facebook advertisement offering to process annulment and nullity of marriage and claiming that no appearance is required during hearings. The ad said that even overseas Filipino workers may file the petition without having to travel back to the country.
Villanueva said such claims were “utterly a deception.”
“Worse, to guarantee that, even supposedly without such court appearance, related documents regarding a petition for annulment or nullity of marriage will be received by interested parties, such as the Decree of Declaration of Absolute Nullity, Entry of Judgment and Marriage Certificate with Annotation of Null and Void, is grossly misleading,” he added.
“Obviously, the intention of such an offer is to lure victims into paying unjustified fees for irregular services,” he said.
According to Villanueva, this is not the first time that the Office of the Court Administrator has learned of such an “unsanctioned activity.”
“We will not be surprised if there are still others using various websites or platforms who are engaged therein that are preying on unsuspecting litigants who wish to have their marriages annulled or declared as a nullity via express proceedings,” Villanueva said.