1,400 PH passports used as loan collateral in HK

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Philippine passports recovered by the Hong Kong Police from a loan shark in 2017 (File photo)

 

 

Hong Kong authorities have recovered 1,4000 Philippine passports from an illegal money lending firm, the Philippine Consulate General (PCG) said.

This is, so far, the biggest haul of Philippine passports that were illegally used as collateral for loans.

“Pawning passports is a violation of the Philippine Passport Act. In fact, a Philippine passport reportedly held as guarantee or collateral for loans or debts is automatically cancelled upon notice by the passport holder that the said document was lost,” Consul General Antonio A. Morales said.

According to the consulate, this latest haul is the third major case of pawned passports that it has handled in the last three years.

In 2018, the police recovered 422 passports from a loan shark while 242 passports were confiscated from another loan shark syndicate in 2017.

The consulate pointed out that it has repeatedly warned the Filipino community in Hong Kong that “all Philippine passports are property of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines, and shall not be used as collateral for any loans or debts.”

The consulate will not issue new passports for repeat offenders. In the 2018 haul, at least four passport owners had also used their previous passports to obtain loans from the loan shark syndicate busted in 2017.

The PCG said it has also sought the assistance of the Hong Kong SAR Licensed Money Lenders Association Limited (LMLA) to address issues regarding illegal money lending activities and practices, including accepting passports as collateral for loans.

The consulate added that it believes that there are still loan sharks and illegal money lenders who continue this illegal practice. It called on Filipino community members to stop patronizing these illegal lending firms and “honor the sanctity of the Philippine passport.”

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