The illegal money-lending business has been causing problems to authorities in most Asian countries, where a large number of migrant workers reside, as well.
The reason for this is that most, if not all, of these workers are bound to their contracts, which restrict them from taking on other jobs outside of their main source of income or employment – which, unfortunately, is not enough to support themselves while working overseas and their families back home, as well.
HK Police Turn Over Nearly 1,000 Passports to Philippine Consulate
In this regard, close to a thousand Philippine passports seized from money lender OFC last Jun 5 have now been turned over by the Hong Kong police to the Consulate, as shared in a report by the Sun HK.
The news was confirmed by Consul Paulo Saret, head of the assistance to nationals (ATN) section.
This 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 has already been released on police bail.
On July 3 (Wednesday), the Consulate released a statement confirming the confiscation of 1,400 passports from what it identified as “an illegal money lender.” This has been the third case of this nature and scope in three years, the statement shared.
At this development, Filipinos were once again warned that the passports issued in their name are recognized as official property of the Philippine government, and pawning them is in violation of Philippine law.
For his part, Consul General Antonio A. Morales explained, “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.”
Furthermore, Saret noted that the latest batch of around 400 passports was handed over by the police to the ATN on Jun 27.
Meanwhile, news that the police have returned some of the confiscated passports had sent an swarm of OFC borrowers to the Consulate, hoping to recover their passports.
However, officials at the consulate told them that in line with existing policy aimed at preventing the use of passports as collateral for loans, their documents were deemed cancelled and would no longer be returned to them.
According to the consulate, renewal is allowed for those whose passports have already been turned over by the police, and replacement for those whose documents remain unaccounted for.
However, renewal costs HKD 480 plus HKD 200 for an Affidavit of Undertaking. Replacement fee costs HKD 200 more, for a total of HKD 880.