MANILA, Philippines — Philippine authorities have rescued 29 women after busting a mail-order bride business and arresting two South Koreans and their four local partners, a police official said Thursday.
Police raided a house Wednesday in Bacoor city near Manila used by the syndicate and found the women, including a 16-year-old girl, said Chief Superintendent Reginald Villasanta, executive director of the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission.
The syndicate collects thousands of dollars in fees from Korean men seeking Filipino wives, telling them falsely that the money will go to the women's families, Villasanta said.
Villasanta says the women are promised a prosperous life in South Korea but often end up abused or in unhappy marriages.
"We have rescued 29 (Filipino women) who were duped into promises of an instant wealthy life thru marriage with Korean gentlemen although in most cases, they ended up in the losing end after becoming victims of grave abuses," Villasanta said.
He said there are an estimated 10,000 Filipino women married to South Koreans.
Poverty and the lack of employment have forced millions of Filipinos to find work abroad and some to seek marriage with foreigners, most with hopes of a better life and being able to support their families back home.
The Philippine embassy in Seoul has reported receiving many complaints from Filipino women abused by their Korean husbands and whose marriages have ended in abandonment or divorce.
It said that the women, who were given false information about their husbands' family backgrounds, were wed through illegal "marriage brokers" in the Philippines, the embassy said in a statement.
Villasanta said the police were tipped off by victims. He did not give details of the police operation.
He said the suspects will be charged with violating the human trafficking law, which carries a 20-year prison term, and another law that prohibits mail-order brides, punishable by six years in prison.