‘Some’ gov’t passport application privileges being sold: DFA exec

??MANILA -- Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Undersecretary Jose Luis Montales on Tuesday bared that "some" endorsement privileges given to government employees were found out being sold to applicants in need.??

"Some they falsify the endorsement, some get authentic endorsements but for a fee," he said in an interview broadcasted online. "Some endorsements from government agencies are being sold."??

Montales said the DFA had already uncovered some agencies involved but at the moment they were not at liberty to disclose.

On the other hand, he vowed the DFA would pursue those implicated in the selling once investigations conclude.

??"We will go after them and file criminal cases against them. We don't know if we will go against the applicants because sometimes out of desperation they (resort) to those things," he said.

To be fair, he said some applicants were cooperative in pitching information about the scammers.??

Meanwhile, he acknowledged that frauds utilizing the social media were prevalent but decried this was not enough to affect the "integrity" of their online appointment system.??Asked why won't the DFA discontinue the endorsements, he said "it is under consideration."??

For the meantime, he noted that the National Bureau of Investigation had already been tasked to probe on, not only the government officials involved, but also, individuals from the private sector advertising they could get clients passport appointments.??

In the interview, Montales said they found out victims got usually caught with four types of scams.

??First is "pure scam" where applicants are offered slots, asked to give initial payment but in reality, the con does not have a reserved appointment.

??"They fill up application forms on behalf of their clients and then put fake barcodes and appointment details. When the client proceeds to the consular offices, fake appointments are dishonored," he said.??

The second scheme is employed on those actually entitled to the courtesy lanes such as senior citizens and overseas Filipino workers.

??"They are led to believe that they need appointments so they pay these enterprising individuals and they get referred to the courtesy lanes," he cited as example.??

The third type is applicants getting appointments, not through the online system but rather through the use of courtesy lanes.??

We accommodate endorsements from government agencies, so these fixers, they pay some government employees o di kaya nagpapalusot sa government employees to get endorsements to use the courtesy lane," he said.??

The fourth scheme involves enterprising individuals who get clients, asks them to give personal information then book these persons' appointments online.??

They get appointments through the online appointment system but it's not reserved slots for them. They're acting as agents of their clients," he said.??

All these schemes employ a marketing scheme" to make the public believe they have reserved slots, he added.

??"We ask the public not to patronize these Facebook pages, these fixers who offer their services for a few. The DFA appointment system has no fee," he said.

Source: Philippine News Agency