(READ: Part 1: The annulment business)
(READ: PART 5: Annulment scam)
MANILA, Philippines – “Puwede ba ‘yun hugutin? (Can it be pulled out?)” is a question often asked about marriage certificates. Hugot, meaning pulling out a marriage certificate from civil registry files, deleting it, and pretending the marriage never happened.
In the Facebook page of Pro-Divorce Philippines, a 5,400-plus-strong group of men and women advocating divorce, this is a common question. A number of similar groups like Divorce for the Philippines, Now!, Divorce Advocates in the Philippines, and Pro-Divorce Misamis Oriental also exist on Facebook.
For fixers, these pages have become virtual hunting grounds for those looking for quick remedies that will make every sordid memory of a bad marriage go away – like hugot.
The answer is no.
“You cannot pull out or delete marriage certificates. Everything is digital now and stored in a database,” said Aurora Reolalas, chief of the Philippine Statistical Authority or PSA’s vital statistics division.
“All civil registry documents and transactions are recorded in a database and assigned a unique transaction code. We can trace the transaction back to the person named in the documents based on this transaction code.”
Marion Ngo Gui had allegedly sent private messages to some in Pro-Divorce Philippines, saying that a contact inside the National Statistics Office (now PSA) could pull out marriage certificates for a fee of P65,000.
One of the members said that Marion offered the hugot service to her and attached screen shots of her SMS exchange.
Upon recent checking, the Facebook profile of Marion Ngo Gui no longer exists.
Another member shared a similar experience. She paid P30,000 to someone who claimed to be an NSO officer to erase her marriage certificate.
The two members were approached by two different people who promised the same thing: they knew someone “on the inside” who could delete the marriage certificates from the database. The deletion is supposedly done at night when no one is watching.
Reolalas said the database server is housed in a different area and only a handful of PSA officials have security access to the records at a level that would allow editing or deletion: “I don’t even have access at that level.” – Rappler.com