24 August 2010

Court of Appeals okays prosecution of Subic Customs collector for bigamy

MANILA, Philippines - The Court of Appeals (CA) has ordered the prosecution of a female official of the Bureau of Customs for alleged bigamy.

In the 29-page decision, the CA’s 23rd Division in Mindanao gave the go signal for the prosecution of Marietta Zamoranos, a collector of the Bureau of Customs at Subic Bay.

The appellate court dismissed the petition of Zamoranos arguing that the Iligan Regional Trial Court has no jurisdiction over the case and it committed grave abuse of discretion in junking her motion to dismiss the complaint of bigamy against her.

The CA said Zamoranos should have faced the charges of bigamy instead of questioning the jurisdiction of the lower court or simply filing a motion to dismiss the case.

The CA earlier ordered the six-month suspension of Zamoranos for immorality following discovery that she was married to different men.

Zamoranos was indicted by the Department of Justice on August 2009 for the crime of bigamy.

The complaint was filed by her second husband, Samson Pacasum Sr., a Customs collector of the Iligan Port who found out that his wife was already married to another man.

Zamoranos argued that as a Muslim woman, she is allowed to marry more than once.

Zamoranos claimed she married her first husband, Jesus de Guzman, in a Muslim wedding and divorced him a year later.

Zamoranos then married Pacasum before an Iligan court judge.

The DOJ said Zamoranos is still married to De Guzman despite the supposed divorce.

The DOJ dismissed the defense of Zamoranos of being a Muslim convert, citing her statements before the Iligan court judge during her wedding with Pacasum that she is a Christian and had never converted to Islam.

Even if she indeed converted to Islam, the CA said Zamoranos is still liable for bigamy under our laws. (Sandy Araneta, Philippine Star)