FB accounts selling passport appointment slots shut down
The DFA has intensified its efforts to curb fixing and scams in relation to passport application.
Edd Gumban/File
FB accounts selling passport appointment slots shut down
Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) - September 2, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Social media giant Facebook has shut down more than 1,000 pages and accounts offering or selling Philippine passport appointment slots, The STAR has learned.

Data from the Office of Public Diplomacy of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) showed that 1,024 Facebook pages and accounts were taken down since February for illegally offering passport appointment slots for a fee.

The DFA has intensified its efforts to curb fixing and scams in relation to passport application.

“Fixers and scammers engaging in fraudulent activities are punishable by law,” the DFA told one Twitter user who was offering slots.

“Violators will be prosecuted and barred from applying for passport. We will report you to designated authorities to penalize you because of your illegal activity,” it added.

The agency also urged the public to avoid having contact with fixers and report posts of people selling slots.

“If you encounter such cases, you must report it immediately. We are doing our best to report these to the designated authorities. You may give us a screenshot or link of particular parties who fix appointments,” it said.

“Appointments not made through http://passport.gov.ph are not legitimate appointments,” added the agency.

An entrapment operation was conducted earlier this year that resulted in the arrest of 20 people who were selling passport appointment slots.

The DFA said it has been implementing various programs to address the backlog in passport applications.

It recently rolled out an electronic payment system to address the backlog and the proliferation of individuals who sell appointment slots to applicants.

“It allows DFA consular offices to accommodate more passport applicants. By significantly cutting down the processing time, DFA consular offices will be able to accommodate more applicants with the same amount of available resources,” said the DFA on the ePayment system.

“It gets rid of fixers. Payment of the passport processing fee is a prerequisite before an applicant will be able to receive a confirmed appointment schedule. An applicant’s confirmed appointment schedule is non-transferrable,” it added.

Thousands of additional slots have also been opened in various consular offices nationwide.

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