Filipinos have been warned. The persistent reports of Filipinos pawning their passports as loan collaterals in Hong Kong have caught the attention (and drawn ire) of the DFA .
With this, we can only expect stricter sanctions from those who engage in this kind of practice, especially the repeat offenders who do not take heed of the warning of the department and the repercussions this would cost them as Filipino nationals and migrant workers overseas.
Consul Warns Filipinos who Pawn Passports Twice of NBI Investigation
In line with this, Consul Paul Saret, head of the Consulate’s Assistance to Nationals (ATN) section, warned Filipinos caught using their passports twice as collateral for loans as they may be referred to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for questioning as per a recent Foreign Service Circular issued, according to a report by the Sun HK.
The consul gave out the warning as he confirmed that all the 1,320 Philippine passports seized by the police from lending company OFC last month had been turned over to the Consulate.
Furthermore, the passports that were pawned as loan collaterals will not be returned to the holders, so they will have to apply for a renewal of their documents. In line with, they will be issued passports valid for only five, instead of the usual 10 years validity.
Of note, violators will be put on a watch list and if they commit the same offense, they will not be able to apply for a new passport in Hong Kong but will be referred to the Department of Foreign Affairs office in Manila to secure a replacement.
And finally, all those found to have hocked their passports twice will face the stiffer sanction of being referred to the NBI for “appropriate action”. It is, however, unclear if that will mean charges to be filed against them, or summary penalties imposed.
Saret cited the provisions of the Foreign Service Circular issued by the DFA, which says the penalty will be non-issuance of passport and referral to the NBI for appropriate action.
“Basically, under the Philippine Passport Act, the improper use of passports has corresponding penalties, so if these are used as collateral, that will be considered as improper use because their purpose is for proper identification of a Filipino when traveling abroad,” he added.
Meanwhile the Consul noted that the employment contracts found tucked inside the passports had already been returned to the workers.