23 passport fixers nabbed in Metro Manila
Philippine authorities have arrested 23 alleged passport fixers in separate operations in three cities in Metro Manila since February.
Southern Police District Chief Supt. Tomas Apolinario said police operatives conducted surveillance since February 15 for possible apprehension of fixers in places where applications for passports are being processed upon the request of the Department of Foreign Affairs.
The alleged fixers ages 24 to 63 were nabbed in entrapment operations in Aseana, Para?aque City; Libertad, Pasay City; and in Gate 3 Plaza in Taguig City.
According to Apolinario, the DFA received reports of fixers selling the passport appointment slots for a fee.
During the entrapment operations, policemen pretended to be passport applicants.
Arrested fixers will face charges for violation of Republic Act No. 9485 or the Anti-Red Tape Act of 2007 and of estafa, among others.
DFA Acting Director of the Passport Division of the Office of Consular Affairs Ricarte Abejuela thanked the SPD for its swift action.
He warned other fixers that they would suffer the same fate as those 23 who have been arrested.
The official also reminded passport applicants to shun individuals who say they can offer them passport appointments for a fee.
“Scheduling an appointment online is completely free,” Abejuela reiterated, adding that all Facebook postings offering passport appointments are scams.
He asked the public to stop patronizing these unscrupulous individuals.
He also noted that the DFA opens slots daily for the March to June schedule passport appointments.
“Applicants should just be prompt and alert because the demand is so high we run out of slots very fast,” he said. Ella Dionisio/DMS