‘Fake weddings’ probe begins

ILOILO City Mayor Jerry Treñas solemnizes the wedding of 16 couples at the City Hall on Aug 23, 2019. Meanwhile, the National Bureau of Investigation has begun investigating the alleged 180 bogus weddings that were registered with the Iloilo City Local Civil Registrar. (Photo from Iloilo City Government FB page)

By: Emme Rose Santiagudo

THE investigation on the alleged fake marriages at the Iloilo City Hall has commenced, according to City Legal Office (CLO) head Edgar Gil.

In an interview on Friday, Gil said that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI)-6 is already looking into the matter.

Kaina, nag-meeting ako sa Regional Director sang NBI, Atty. Mario Tonelete. They are now in the process of investigating,” he said.

To recall, Mayor Jerry Treñas sought the help of the NBI to probe alleged fake weddings that were entered into the Iloilo City Local Civil Registrar’s Office (LCRO)

Treñas said he received complaints on 180 alleged bogus marriages which he referred to the CLO.

In an earlier interview, Gil mentioned a certain “Judge Artuz,” who was terminated from the judiciary in 2017, of solemnizing the fake weddings despite the lack of authority.

Two years ago, Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC) Branch 5 Judge Ofelia M.D. Artuz was dismissed from service for grave misconduct, dishonesty and falsification of official documents.

Daily Guardian has tried to reach Artuz for her comment but to no avail.

Marriages formalized by unauthorized solemnizing officers are considered null and void, Gil said.

The alleged wedding rackets in the City Hall also involved fixers who get paid to hasten the issuance of marriage licenses.

Local Civil Registrar Office head Romeo Caesar Manikan Jr. has clarified in previous interviews that it is beyond the duty and powers of his office to determine the authority of the solemnizing officer.

Manikan said their role on processing of marriage contracts is purely ministerial.

Meanwhile, Gil said that they will adopt the recommendations of the NBI probe.

Kung ano kalawig ang investigation, wala ta kabalo. Sila na ma-determine how they are going to proceed but whatever ang recommendations, we will adopt,” he noted.

He added that they received additional key information on the matter but he refused to disclose it.

Gil said they will endorse the new information to the NBI.