‘We’re not stupid,’ says Cayetano in denying existence of passport syndicate
Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano on Friday denied the existence of a syndicate involving personnel of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and some travel agencies that sell passport appointments at exorbitant prices.
“We are not the NBI nor are we the CIDG, but we are also not stupid. Ibig sabihin alam naman namin (It means we also know) if there’s a fertile ground for sindikato (syndicate),” Cayetano said.
Cayetano, who led the ceremonial launching of the 10-year validity passport, said the DFA already made reforms to curb opportunities for racketeers.
“We removed the allotment to remove the opportunity for a syndicate. Let’s say I have 50 slots and I will sell it for 2000 per slot. I will earn 100,000. We already removed that,” he said.
These included the 1200 slots allotted to travel agencies, some slots given to the constituents of representatives and some slots saved for DFA employees.
But Cayetano did not dismiss the possibility of having fixers who may have a connection inside the DFA.
The secretary said: “Hindi po namin sinasabi na imposibleng may manloloko, hindi po namin sinasabing imposibleng may fixer. Ang sinasabi namin ay imposibleng ginagatasan ang OFW (overseas Filipino workers).”
(We’re not saying it’s impossible that there are cheaters and fixers. We’re saying it’s impossible for us to take advantage of the OFWs.)
He reiterated that OFWs may avail of the express lane exclusively set up for them.
Likewise, senior citizens, persons with disabilities, solo parents with valid solo parent ID, pregnant women with medical certificates and minors below seven years old are exempted from securing online appointments and may walk in at consular offices near them.
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