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Pawned passports turned over by police to PCG nears 1,000

04 July 2019



By Vir B. Lumicao 

Nearly a thousand Philippine passports seized from money lender OFC on Jun 5 have now been turned over by the Hong Kong police to the Consulate.

This is according to Consul Paulo Saret, head of the assistance to nationals section. 

That leaves only about 400 still being documented by the police as evidence if they pursue a case against the OFC owner who was arrested during the raid but is out on police bail.

The Consulate released a statement on Jul 3 confirming the seizure of 1,400 passports from what it called "an illegal money lender." It was the third such case in three years, said the statement. 


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Filipinos were again warned that the passports issued in their name remain as property of the Philippine government, and pawning them violates the law,

"Pawning passports is a violation of the Philippine Passport Act. In fact, a Philippine passport reportedly held as guarantee or collateral for loans or debts is automatically cancelled upon notice by the passport holder that the said document was lost,” the statement quoted Consul General Antonio A. Morales as saying  

Saret said the latest batch of about 400 passports was handed over by the police to the ATN on Jun 27. 

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News that the police have returned some of the confiscated passports had sent an avalanche of OFC borrowers to the Consulate, hoping to recover their passports. 

But they've been told that in line with existing policy aimed at preventing the use of passports as collateral for loans, their documents were deemed cancelled and would not be returned to them.

Saret said that as of Jul 3, the Consulate had received 75 applications for passport renewal from the OFC customers and 12 applications for replacement of lost passports.  

Renewal is allowed for those whose passports have already been turned over by the police, and replacement for those whose documents remain unaccounted for.

Renewal costs $480 plus $200 for an Affidavit of Undertaking. Replacement fee costs $200 more, for a total of $880.

Saret says the affidavit binds the passport holders to an undertaking that they will be placed on a DFA Watchlist the first time they are caught pawning the travel document, and that they will no longer be issued a passport if they are caught a second time.

Those whose passports are still being held by the police but are in a hurry to get a new one have been told that they will have to apply for a replacement.  

Saret says the punitive fee would hopefully deter Filipinos from engaging in the illicit practice.

“Diyan pa lang ay halos doble na ang presyo,” he said. 

Due to the price difference, there were some replacement applicants who wanted to change their applications to renewal.

“Pero simabi namin sa kanila na naipadala na naming sa Maynila ang kanilang mga dokumento,” he said.

The Consulate said it had requested the DFA to authorize the outpost to process the OFC customers’ passport applications in Hong Kong rather than send them back to Manila as what was done in the past.

That could save many of the workers from being fired by their employers who would most likely not allow them to wait long in Manila for their new passports. 

Some also fear being sacked once their employers learn they had taken out loans, and even used their passports as security to boot.
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