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Bishop seeks strong action against loan sharks holding passports

Bishop seeks strong action against   loan sharks holding passports

By CBCP News

July 4, 2019

Manila, Philippines

A Philippine church official wants a crackdown on unscrupulous loan sharks who held the passports of Filipino workers as collateral.

Bishop Ruperto Santos of the church’s migrants ministry said those behind illegal activity targeting OFWs must be held accountable.

He was speaking after Hong Kong authorities recently recovered 1,400 Philippine passports from the lending firm, Overseas First Credit, that were used as collateral for loans.

The bishop said that using passport as collateral is illegal as mandated by 1994 Foreign Service Circular 99.

“To have it as collateral is blackmailing for very excessive interest rate,” Santos said. “The Overseas First Credit should be investigated, prosecuted.”

Under the Foreign Service Circular No. 2014-99, it is prohibited to use passport for collateral, and that doing so can result to the passport being invalidated.

The church official, on the other hand, asked the Philippine government to help the concerned OFWs, especially in the procurement of new passports.

He also urged the government to make the Overseas Filipino Bank (OFBank) more accessible to OFWs to take them away from loan sharks.

“It is a very sad story, where, with the precarious and dire needs of our OFWs, they become victims of heartless and unscrupulous persons,” said Santos.