The Department of Foreign Affairs has admitted that “some” passport application endorsements are being sold illegally.
The admission was made by DFA Undersecretary Jose Luis Montales during a hearing at the House of Representatives today (Tuesday, January 30).
“Some they falsify the endorsement, some get authentic endorsements but for a fee. Some endorsements from government agencies are being sold. That’s the sad reality.”
Montales said the National Bureau of Investigation and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group of the Philippine National Police have started investigating a number of agencies behind this scheme.
Endorsements allow applicants to apply for passports without having to wait for passport application appointments. This is because endorsed applicants can use the DFA’s passport courtesy lane, where an appointment is not needed.
“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 on social media were prevalent but added that this was not enough to affect the “integrity” of their online appointment system.
Asked why the DFA doesn’t simply discontinue the endorsements, he said it was under consideration.
In the interview, Montales said they found out victims got usually caught with four types of scams.
The first is a “pure” scam, in which applicants pay for slots that don’t exist.
The second is employed on those actually entitled to the courtesy lanes such as senior citizens and overseas Filipino workers.
The third type is applicants getting appointments, not through the online system but rather through the use of courtesy lanes.
The fourth scheme involves enterprising individuals who get clients, asks them to give personal information then book these persons’ appointments online.
All these schemes employ a “marketing scheme” to make the public believe they have reserved slots, he added.
“We ask the public not to patronise these Facebook pages, these fixers who offer their services for a few. The DFA appointment system has no fee,” he said.