Doing the Right Thing in the Philippines.
Here’s another of those posts that essentially wrote themselves.
A reader posed a question, very typical to questions I get here all the time. I started to write one of my famous “book-length” responses to his comment, and then decided this needs to be brought out into the main articles area so that it is easier for others to read as well.
Freedom to Marry
- 0.1 Freedom to Marry
- 0.2 Executive Summary
- 0.3 If You Want The Details
- 0.4 It’s Only My Personal Opinion
- 0.5 Not Only Is It Wrong, It Probably Won’t Work
- 0.6 Never Mind Her Annulment, How About Your Career?
- 0.7 A Name Change Is Going To Be a Big Red Flag
- 0.8 In The Security Clearance Business, You’re Guilty Until Proven Innocent
- 0.9 Seek Guidance First, Not After The House Of Cards Collapses
- 1 Related Posts
- 2 Readers who viewed this page, also viewed:
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Week in and week out I get queries that center around the issue of “freedom to marry” and, after 15 plus years in this business, some would be surprised just how alike many of those questions are.
A very common thread involves someone trying to find a “loophole” or some way or another to skirt the law or “short cut” the accepted procedures, and, in my view, at least, they are recipes for disaster.
Some of you may not care to read what may develop into a long article. If so, I can summarize what’s going to follow with one simple rule to live by:
Integrity means doing the right thing even if no one else will find out.
I suspect a few readers here may consider that ‘stodgy’, ‘archaic’ and ‘stuffy, old man’ thinking. So be it. All are free to believe what they want to believe, but I also know many will agree that a man or woman who has lost their integrity has lost everything. Or so Dave opines.
If You Want The Details
Here’s the reader’s question, followed by my responses:
Philly, thanks for all your help. I am US Army Soldier in Iraq. I just found out the girl friend I want to marry was married before … She thinks that if she somehow changes her name that this will allow her to remarry. If I read all that is here I think the only way for her to get a fiancée’Visa to America or able to get civil marriage in Philippines is if she gets a legal annulment. When I read the 6 reasons that normally justify an annulment I don’t see how they apply to her situation. And she is saying the lawyer told her she can get her an annulment in 3 months for 200,000 peso. Something sounds wrong here. Any advice you can give? I know you are not a lawyer but I just wanted to see what you could tell me.
Dear Sir, first of all let me thank you for your service, as well as being a reader and for contributing to this community.
It’s Only My Personal Opinion
Second, be aware you did ask my opinion, so that’s what you are going to get. You should know enough just by nosing around here a bit, that my opinions don’t always go down too easily with some … but that’s the way things go. My thought are:
She thinks that if she somehow changes her name that this will allow her to remarry
This young lady is not thinking right. You can not live your life on based on a lie (such as changing one’s name for reasons of avoiding the law). You know and I know, and possibly she knows, deep down inside, this would be the wrong thing to do.
Not Only Is It Wrong, It Probably Won’t Work
From my experience in the Philippines, this would never work. Everyone knows everyone (or so it seems to me).
Women, in particular, track their classmates from elementary school on to the time they are grandma’s. Everybody seems to evaluate other people’s importance in life by what schools they went to, their family name, etc.
I also believe this is quite likely illegal, also, under the laws of the Philippines.
I really don’t think the Philippine NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) is incompetent.
They, and the US State Department vet all candidates for US fiancee or spousal visas.
To think that they wouldn’t notice the name change seems a bit unbelievable to me. These guys, on both the Philippine and US side, uncover fraud for a living. A very ill-conceived idea, IMO.
When I read the 6 reasons that normally justify an annulment I don’t see how they apply to her situation
Well this, of course will get us quickly far beyond my area of expertise. Only an attorney in the Philippines would really be qualified to give advice here. I’ve heard what sounds to me some very tenuous arguments that managed to “fit” a case into one or more of the general reasons for granting an annulment.
That’s one reason a lawyer goes to school for however many years, passes an arduous bar exam, etc. What I don’t know, myself, would fill a book.
The weaker you feel the case may be, the more you need competent legal advice before embarking on a course of action, not later, after damage to your case may have already occurred.
… she is saying the lawyer told her she can get her an annulment in 3 months for 200,000 peso. Something sounds wrong here…
Sounds off to me as well, possibly by a factor of four in either direction. The most successful cases I know of, personally, took about a year.
I think one year is a somewhat realistic estimate. Three months? Well, if you can do it, hey, good luck to you, but if a lawyer told me that, I’d demand official records, testimonials of satisfied former clients, etc. to back that claim up.
Second, something along the lines of P50,000 is more in line with prices I have heard. I find this lawyer’s estimate/offer a bit suspicious, in my personal view. I would check this attorney’s reputation and background out very closely, were it me.
Never Mind Her Annulment, How About Your Career?
Let me conclude with an issue you didn’t mention.
You state you’re a serving in the US Army. About 99 chances out of 100, you already hold a US Security Clearance.
If you chose to remain in the Army as a career, or if you separate and go into some related civilian field, there’s an excellent chance that a security clearance is going to be a part of your life for years to come.
The rules regarding security clearances and marriage to a foreign national are much more strict and unyielding than the rules of ordinary, non-cleared individuals. The US government, to put it mildly, errs very much on the side of caution in these matters.
I’m not saying that one can’t marry a foreign national and hold a security clearance … there may be no problem there, hundreds of thousands of military and civilian security-cleared folks do have foreign spouses … but I am saying that she is going to be subjected to scrutiny far beyond what she wold be if you were marrying her as a private citizen. Both now, and throughout your married life so long as you hold a clearance.
If you hold a Top Secret or higher clearance, the scrutiny becomes much more intensive, even invasive in some people’s view.
Are you ready for this? More importantly, is she ready for this?
A Name Change Is Going To Be a Big Red Flag
This speaks directly to the issue we first talked about … the proposed name change to make the previous marriage disappear. Actions like this are trivially easy for experienced investigators to find, and no matter the intent of such “shortcuts”, once they become evident in an investigation they go directly to the trustworthiness and integrity of the subject and the subject’s spouse.
In The Security Clearance Business, You’re Guilty Until Proven Innocent
The whole security clearance process is not like the civil legal process, where one only has only to avoid actually breaking a law to stay out of trouble, (you are innocent unless proven guilty).
The clearance process is a lot more like a situation where guilt is assumed and one has to prove innocence. Don’t take offense at this, but I feel it has to be said … particularly if you are making a career out of the military.
Seek Guidance First, Not After The House Of Cards Collapses
Have you had a heart-to-heart with your commander or your unit security rep? Personally, I’d request one … before I took any actions I might later have to explain.
Hope this has been of some help to you. Godspeed.
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