MANILA (Aug. 9) — Foreigners who offer marriage to Filipino women in exchange for their kidneys or other human organs or tissues risk running afoul of Philippine criminal laws, Cotabato Rep. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza warned Sunday.
“Foreigners cannot procure kidneys from Filipino women in return for marriage. They will definitely be held to account for violating Philippine statutes against the trafficking in persons or their human organs, and/or our laws banning mail-order brides,” Taliño-Mendoza said.
Taliño-Mendoza made the statement not long after a Saudi Arabian man married a Filipino woman to mask his buying her kidney, in a bid to dodge the Philippines’ rigorous new rules against human organ trafficking,
Philippine authorities prevented the man’s transplant.
The Saudi man sought a kidney transplant at a Philippine government-run hospital, listing his new wife as his voluntary donor.
Suspicious Philippine authorities ruled that the transplant was not a valid donation, but an effective human organ sale, considering the couple had married only recently and did not speak a common language.
Last week, Taliño-Mendoza urged the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) to run after human organ smugglers preying on impoverished women in her province.
In the Cotabato town of M’lang alone, human organ traffickers have already illicitly acquired kidneys from at least a dozen women, each lured with P200,000, according to Taliño-Mendoza.
“This is one of the most repulsive forms of exploitation of women,” she added.
On Saturday, Immigration Commissioner Marcelino Libanan, a member of the IACAT, responded to Taliño-Mendoza’s call and vowed to pin down foreigners and their local intermediaries engaged in the illegal human organ trade.
According to the World Health Organization, the Philippines has emerged as the No. 5 global hotspot for human organ trafficking. The criminal trade involves mostly kidneys, since humans can survive with only one kidney.
The Philippines’ Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003 penalizes the buying and selling of human organs. Those found guilty of engaging in the unlawful trade face 20 years in prison plus a fine of up to P2 million.
Meanwhile, the Philippines’ Anti-Mail-Order Bride Law forbids persons or entities from matching Filipino women for marriage to foreigners either on a mail-order basis or via personal introduction for a fee. Offenders face from six to eight years in prison plus a fine of up to P20,000.
Congress passed the law in 1990, after dozens of Filipino women lured by mail-order bride advertisements were found forced into prostitution overseas. Others ended up as battered wives or enslaved domestic laborers.