Can NBI probe ‘defective’ marriages?

By: Emme Rose Santiagudo

THE camp of Iloilo City Local Civil Registrar Office head Romeo Caesar Manikan Jr. questioned the legal basis for the probe into alleged defective marriages registered with City Hall.

The investigation was triggered by the alleged 180 defective marriages that were uncovered at the LCRO recently.

On Thursday, Manikan appeared before the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Western Visayas Regional Office (WEVRO) alongside his legal counsel following a subpoena order issued on Aug 27, 2019.

According to Manikan, they have requested for the legal basis for the issuance of the subpoena and the copies of the complaints or documents that kick-started the investigation.

Ang akon lawyer, nag-request kami sang any documents or basis. Amo na to luyag nga hatagan kami copy sang complaints kay amo na gin-ugat sang tanan nga may complaint,” he said in a phone interview on Thursday.

In their manifestation, Manikan’s brother and legal counsel Raleigh Manikan said the LCRO head is not aware of any letter or documents or complaints or any documents requesting for the NBI investigation.

“My client is not aware of any letter, affidavit, paper, pleading, document, attachments complaining against him, his office nor requesting for an investigation as you have described, and as such, would like to be fully apprised thereof and furnished a copy/ies in the spirit of equity, justice and transparency, and pursuant, to the mandate of due process of the law,” Atty. Manikan said.

However, Manikan said that the NBI refused to give them copies of the documents.

Wala kami kakuha, indi kami pag hatagan copy sang complaints,” he said.

Aside from the manifestation, Manikan added that they are planning to file another manifestation or letter on the possible concerns on the documents that are being sought by the NBI from their office.

“During the discussion with the NBI, we raised major concerns on the possible breach of the Data Privacy Act as regards sa mga marriage certificates and information sang marriages that are subject of this investigation nga gina-request nila so we will be sending out another manifestation or letter,” he stressed.

Mayor Jerry Treñas sought the help of the NBI to probe alleged defective fake marriages in the LCRO involving unauthorized solemnizing officers.

City Legal Office (CLO) head Edgar Gil had tagged a certain “Judge Artuz,” who was terminated from the judiciary in 2017, as the solemnizing officer of the alleged defective weddings.

Manikan has emphasized that their function in the LCRO is purely ministerial.

He also encouraged the complainants to file formal complaints or affidavits.

Ibutang tani nila sa ensakto nga perspective kay papano maaksyonan ang isa ka bagay nga wala ka pirma, indi na manami nga daw wala ga angay so ako ya, we will face them, ma-cooperate kita sa government agencies para mabal-an ang kamatuoran,” he noted.