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

20 January 2017

By Vir B. Lumicao
Passport issuance in HK was delayed by up to more than a month
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 concerns over passport delays which Consulate officials said were due to the backlog in Manila over the long 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 owners of the passports that had been delayed for at least a week had already 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. 
Delay in the processing of applications happened in Manila
Shipments of new passports from Manila arrive every Monday, so the Consulate is expecting the delivery of just about the same number, or 2,000, on Jan 23, Quintin said. On rare occasions a small number arrive in special pouches which cost more.
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.
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, as they would definitely have a hard time getting a replacement.
“We are very strict on that,” she said, adding that many have been doing that and the Consulate is keeping an eye on the malpractice.
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 and would have a bad record.
“Please warn them that it is against the law,” Quintin said.

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