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2,000 new passports arrive in HK, release back to normal

04 February 2017

Long lines formed in previous weeks for delayed passports.
By Vir B. Lumicao

The release of new passports to Filipinos in Hong Kong has returned to normal following the arrival of 2,000 pieces of the travel document from Manila on Monday, Jan 16, according to a Consulate official.

The delivery has eased community concerns about the delays in the passports’ release, triggered by the intervening Christmas and New Year holidays.

Vice Consul Fatima Quintin, head of the passport section, told The SUN in an interview on Jan 19 that the travel documents that had been delayed for at least a week were with the batch and its owners had been notified.

“As we had promised the applicants, if their passports don’t arrive on the scheduled date, we’ll text them; when the passports arrive, we also text them,” said Quintin.

This was confirmed by a Filipina worker who rushed to the Consulate at 4:45pm on Jan 19 to pick up her passport, as she was going home on Jan 22 due to a family emergency.

“Tinawagan ako dahil dumating na raw ang passport ko, hihintayin daw nila ako hanggang 5:30pm,” the helper told The SUN inside the lift.

The counters at the public hall were already closed when she got there, but, true enough a staff waited for her in the passport section and reopened the releasing window when she knocked on the door.

Shipments of new passports from Manila arrive every Monday, although sometimes a small number are sent on other days through special deliveries, she said.

Quintin said processing time was back to normal this past week.

She said when the shipment arrived on Monday night, her staff worked double time sorting them and contacting the owners.

Processing varies from three weeks to three months, depending on the correctness of the entries.
She said it would take longer than normal to process the passports of those with assumed identities, many of whom are OFWs.

The official urged OFWs to apply for renewal of their passports at least eight months before the travel documents expire so there would be an allowance for delays. Or as early as possible if they want their new visas stamped on their new passports.

Meanwhile, Quintin warned OFWs against using their passports as collateral for loans, saying they would definitely have a hard time getting a replacement.

“We are very strict on that,” she said, adding that because many have been abusing the process the Consulate has imposed stricter rules on issuing replacement passports.

She said the Consulate’s policy today is to require each applicant to declare if he has used his passport as collateral.

If he said no but was found to have done so, he would be subject to clearance from DFA, making it more difficult for him to get a replacement.

“Please warn them that it is against the law,” Quintin added.

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