Consular and embassy officials in the United Arab Emirates have reminded Filipinos to legalize a union or face jail terms when caught engaging in sexual activity outside marriage.
The reminder comes as news about a Filipino couple appealing their sex out of wedlock case last week.
“I wish to remind all my fellow Filipinos in Dubai and the Northern Emirates that premarital sex and sex outside wedlock is against UAE law. It is punishable by three to six months imprisonment and eventual deportation,” Consul-General Paul Raymund Cortes told Gulf News.
Despite the law is well-known within the UAE, several couples still end up in prison for such violations.
Lawyer Barney Almazar, a licensed legal consultant and partner at Gulf Law, said the number of Filipinos seeking legal advice on these matters remained the same. But he added that most of them arrived in the UAE just recently.
“Perhaps there are those who genuinely do not know about it. They are perhaps unaware that there are things we can do in the Philippines that we cannot do here since there are differences in the Philippine and UAE laws,” Almazar told Gulf News.
“For example, engaging in premarital sex is not a crime in the Philippines. But in the UAE, it is,” Almazar explained.
He cited that illicit relationships are among the top issues that plague some Filipinos in the UAE.
“My advice to single men and women who are in a relationship and have plans to live together is to get married so they can live as husband and wife. To those who are currently in extramarital relationships, end the existing relationship properly. Once you are legally allowed to get married again, do it,” Almazar said, adding that it’s not only about complying with the law, but it’s also fair with the partner.
The Philippine government has instituted a Legal Assistance Fund to help Filipinos overseas for their litigation expenses, court fees, and bail bonds, but there are guidelines to follow.
In 2016, for example, the ATN section in Dubai disbursed $325,184 for legal assistance to 48 Filipinos involved in rape, murder, and drug-related crimes, labor cases, theft, forgery, and breach of trust cases, among others.