Senate recalls PSA 2024 budget OK, cites Chinese gaining birth certificates
MANILA, Philippines — The Senate withdrew the plenary approval of the Philippine Statistics Authority’s (PSA) budget for 2024 for allegedly granting foreigners birth certificates, enabling them to obtain Philippine passports.
Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva moved to reconsider the approval of PSA’s budget late Thursday evening during the chamber’s deliberation on the proposed P5.768 trillion allocation for 2024.
“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.
PSA’s budget was approved on the first day of Senate plenary deliberations held Wednesday.
But justifying the chamber’s move to recall its approval, Villanueva stressed that the reported issuance of Philippine passports to Chinese nationals is a “national security concern.”
The move to recall the approval of PSA’s budget comes after Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa asked whether the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) was aware of the alleged scheme involving foreign nationals with Philippine passports.
Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda, the sponsor of the DFA’s budget, confirmed that the agency was aware of the scheme and is “actively engaging [with] law enforcement agencies pursuing the proper criminal charges against foreigners who were able to obtain Philippine passports.”
According to the DFA, the foreigners are posing themselves as real Filipinos by presenting “authentic” PSA birth certificates and valid government-issued identification cards.
“The DFA further notes that some of these foreigners 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,” said Legarda.
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, especially PSA.
“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.