About 1,400 Philippine passports from Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) were seized by police authorities in Hong Kong following a raid conducted at a lending company. These passports served as collateral so they can get loan money.
According to reports, the said passports were from OFWs who had a loan from Overseas First Credit. Despite the lingering use of passports as collateral, this activity is considered illegal under the Foreign Service Circular No. 2014-99.
This circular states that passports must not be used as collateral when getting a loan. If done so, the passport will be considered invalidated. Hong Kong police already turned over the 900 passports that they seized to Philippine Consulate.
Owners of the seized passports reached for the Consulate in the hopes of getting the passports to no avail. Because they use it as collateral, they have to apply for a new one and declare in an affidavit that they used their old passport as loan collateral.
Additionally, they will be added in the watch list at the Department of Foreign Affairs. Meanwhile, the lending company who accepted the passports as collateral has yet to issue a statement regarding the incident.
This isn’t the first time that such a case occurred in Hong Kong. Last year, about 404 Philippine passports were seized from alleged loan sharks. The Hong Kong resident was arrested together with a Filipina helper who helped him run the business.