Alarm sounded on issuance of PH passport to Chinese nationals
MANILA, Philippines — Senators early Friday morning expressed alarm over the alleged issuance of Philippine passports to Chinese nationals, calling it a national security issue.
Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa initially raised the issue during the Senate’s deliberation on the proposed P5.768 trillion national budget for 2024.
During the plenary debates, dela Rosa asked Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda, sponsor of the Department of Foreign Affairs, if she was aware of the alleged scheme involving foreign nationals who have Philippine passports.
Legarda confirmed that the DFA was aware of the scheme and that it is “actively engaging [with] law enforcement agencies pursuing the proper criminal charges against foreign nationals who were able to obtain Philippine passports.”
“The DFA notes that these foreign nationals post themselves as Filipinos by assuming Filipino identities through the presentation of authentic and genuine Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) birth certificates with valid government-issued identification cards (IDs) that are accepted for passport application,” said Legarda, reading the DFA’s statement.
“The DFA further notes that some of these foreign nationals post themselves as persons with disability and presented authentic persons with disability IDs. In doing so, these individuals are escorted by their immediate family members and relatives during the passport application form,” she added.
The DFA said it is aiming to sign a Memorandum of Agreement with PSA for the “integration of systems” that would allow frontliners to quickly validate the authenticity of PSA documents.
Even Legarda said she was “not happy” with the DFA’s statement, adding that a thorough investigation needs to be done, not only among the officials of the DFA but also other agencies involved.
“I thank your Honor for bringing it to our attention because it is not just an issue of passport. It is a national security issue,” Legarda said.
Similar to what Legarda pointed out, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said there’s a need to “get to the bottom” of the scheme and look at it from different aspects.
Zubiri likewise disclosed that there is an ongoing investigation in a town in the Caraga region in Mindanao where the alleged distribution of Philippine birth certificates to Chinese nationals is taking place.
Reconsider PSA budget
Later in the hearing, Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva moved to reconsider the budget of PSA, which was already approved by the chamber on Wednesday.
Villanueva stressed that the reported issuance of Philippine passports to Chinese nationals is a “national security concern.”
“We’d like to move to reconsider the budget of PSA and direct the Legislative Budget Research and Monitoring Office to issue the necessary notice and inform the body of the schedule of PSA’s budget discussion,” said Villanueva.
“I’d like to express my utmost disgust upon hearing this particular incident,” he said, adding that amid this reported scheme, many Filipinos still struggle to acquire Philippine passports.