THE Department of Foreign Affairs thwarted attempts of at least 58 Chinese nationals who applied for Philippine passports in Metro Manila.
DFA Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs Adelio Cruz said the Chinese nationals presented original birth certificates and other documents when they applied for passports at the DFA consular headquarters in Aseana, Pasay City.
“Nahuhuli na lang naming sila [Chinese passport applicants] during the interview,” he said.
One of the Chinese applicants, he recalled, pretended to be a person with disability and made motion gestures that he is deaf and mute.
“Buti na lang meron kaming staff na marunong ng sign language. Ayun, nahuli namin na hindi naman pala sign language yung mga hand motions niya,” Cruz narrated to diplomatic reporters.
Some Chinese applicants appeared to have been “coached,” and memorized all the details in their spurious birth certificates and other documents.
“Pero pag tinanong namin ng questions like, ‘Sino ang laging ka-tandem ni Nora Aunor? Ano ang famous song ni Andrew E.?’ Tapos di masagot, ayun, mare-red flag na baka hindi Filipino,” he added.
Last year, he said police and NBI authorities have investigated 12 Chinese nationals for illegal possession of genuine Philippine passports.
Cruz said the case buildup against these 12 Chinese nationals is still ongoing but investigators are having difficulties getting their true identities.
Upon the recommendation of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, the DFA activated the Inter-Agency Task Force on Passport Irregularities and held two meetings to stop the proliferation of these illegal activities.
He said one of challenges the DFA passport assessors face is that applicants are able to submit original PSA birth certificates—the major requirement to show proof of identity.
“Madali lang kasi makakuha ng PSA birth certificate. Mag-late registration, get affidavit from two disinterested parties, ayun may original birth certificate ka na. So that’s one of our concerns,” Cruz said.
He said a memorandum of agreement is being negotiated now between the DFA and security agencies on how to better improve the policing and ensuring sanctity of passports. They are also proposing that real-time sharing of information be done so they can immediately ascertain the identities of applicants.
“We can assure you that our colleagues here in consular affairs, not just in China, are being very, very careful that only legitimate, qualified applicants can avail of Philippine passports—only Filipinos,” Cruz said.
Image credits: Official Gazette