Fri, Feb 17, 2012 - Page 5 News List

Ex-Philippine envoy accused of keeping concubine

AFP, MANILA

A former Philippine ambassador has been arrested for allegedly keeping a concubine, a court said yesterday, shining a spotlight on a little-used law against adultery in the Catholic nation.

Francisco Ortigas, who is also a member of one of the country’s richest families, was charged on Wednesday with “concubinage” for allegedly conducting the affair with his wife’s best friend in a family-owned Manila apartment.

“The painful truth, is that I married an abuser, a scrooge, an incorrigible philanderer and worse, a pervert,” Ortigas’s wife of 43 years, Susana, said in an affidavit to police that led to the charge.

Ortigas posted bail of 10,000 pesos (US$233) shortly after police arrested him at a stock exchange building in Manila, said Ronald Santiago, an officer at the court that will try the case.

If found guilty, Ortigas, 67, faces between six months and four years in jail, while the alleged concubine would be barred from contacting him.

The crime of “concubinage” in the Philippines is defined by law as a husband having sex with a mistress in his family’s home, or living in another home with a woman who is not his wife.

It is one of many conservative laws that reflects the Philippines’ deep Catholic roots, stemming from three centuries of Spanish colonial rule that ended in the late 1800s.

The Philippines is the only country in the world, except for the Vatican City, where divorce is outlawed, while abortion is also a crime.

However, while 80 percent of Filipinos are Catholic, only one in three are married in a church, contraception is widely used and people are rarely prosecuted for concubinage.

While Ortigas wields economic power and political influence — he was ambassador to Mexico from 2008 to 2010 — his estranged wife also comes from a powerful family — the Madrigal clan.

While the concubinage charge refers only to that alleged affair, Susana Ortigas, 63, also accused her husband in the affidavit of years of infidelity, including habitual sex with a maid and a company employee.

Ortigas, who is a shareholder in the family-owned Ortigas group of companies that owns vast tracts of land in Manila, requested privacy after he was arrested.

“This is a purely private matter which refined and civilized individuals avoid elucidating on,” he said in a statement released by his lawyer.

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