By: Alex P. Vidal
“If you can’t see past my name, you can’t see me.” ― DaShanne Stokes
IF you aren’t authorized, you can’t solemnize.
Iloilo City Legal Officer Edgardo Gil’s basis for calling as “fake” the marriages solemnized by “ex” Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC) Branch 5 Judge Ofelia M.D. Artuz was the Supreme Court’s purported order in 2017 that dismissed Artuz as a judge; thus “she wasn’t authorized.”
Gil, according to report, has named Artuz to be possibly behind the alleged fake weddings uncovered at the Iloilo City Local Civil Registrar’s Office (LCRO) that supposedly victimized more than a hundred couples since 2017 until 2018.
The city legal officer was so cocksure about Artuz’s role that he made a categorical declaration about what had transpired when the alleged malfeasance was executed.
“Kun kaisa sa sagwa ginasolemnize, si Judge Artuz, gin-terminate na siya sa service as a judge sang August 29, 2017. Even if she is not authorized, sige pa siya gihapon solemnize sang marriage,” Gil was quoted in a report by Emme Rose Santiagudo in the Daily Guardian dated August 22, 2019.
Because Gil already went ballistic against Artuz, we assume that the city legal office had already conducted a motu propio investigation prior to its decision to endorse the issue for further probe to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
Otherwise, Gil would be accused of pushing the cart ahead of the horse in as far as investigation of the issue is concerned.
Now that Gil has jumped the gun on Artuz, isn’t it incumbent upon him to start filing the appropriate cases against the lady judge if he had enough evidence, instead of running for succor to the NBI?
By telling all and sundry they had already endorsed the matter to the NBI (Mayor Geronimo “Jerry” Treñas had earlier confirmed they were seeking the NBI’s help), Gil innocuously was sending a message they have a weak case against Artuz; so that they needed the NBI to do the yeoman’s job.
Gil may have violated their profession’s code of ethics by prejudging Artuz and by making a presumption that all the weddings she had solemnized, because she was “unauthorized”, were fake and, thus, null and void.
According to LCRO Officer Romeon Juncae Manikan Jr., a law graduate, only the Supreme Court can declare whether a marriage is fake.
Assuming that Artuz could not anymore solemnize marriages immediately after her purported dismissal from the Supreme Court took effect, were the weddings she had solemnized before the Supreme Court ruling on her termination authorized and legal?
Better still, did she really continue to solemnize weddings even after her dismissal? If she appealed the dismissal, were all the weddings she had supposedly solemnized while her dismissal was under appeal, authorized and legal?
There are two schools of thought in this imbroglio, thus we want the truth to come out; we want wrongdoings to stop, but we must be objective and fair to all concerned.
Without any impartial investigation or without inviting Artuz to air her side first before going tongs and hammer against her in the media, they have already shot her from the hips and injured so many bystanders.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)