Tell the Truth, Envoy Reminds Filipinos in Passport Loan Shark Probe in HK
“Tell the truth.”
Vice Consul Alex Vallespin of the Philippine Consulate General in Hong Kong made the reminder to Filipinos who will undergo interview by local police regarding the group allegedly taking passports of Filipino helpers as loan collaterals.
“Ang sinabi namin sa kanila, huwag na silang magsinungaling kasi kapag nagsinungaling sila, tatandaan pa nila ang pagsisinungaling nila at kapag specific ang sinabi nila at pinaikot-ikot na sila, at kung mahusay ang imbestigador, mayayari sila,” Vallespin said in an interview.
“Sa mga may passport, sabihin nila kung sinangla o kung kumita sila, sabihin nila kung may role sila o wala,” he added.
Vallespin noted a drop in the report of cases of missing or lost passports to the Consulate following the arrests made by Hong Kong Police.
“Tahimik ngayon. May nagrereport pa rin naman weekly ng nawawalang passport. Pero honestly, kung hindi dito sa breakthrough na nangyari, we have no way of knowing,” Vallespin said.
In March, at least three Filipinos who were arrested by authorities for involvement in illegal lending activities and preying on domestic helpers have sought a meeting with the Philippine Consulate General. More than 10 people were nabbed, including eight Filipinos and a Chinese couple, related to illegal money lending business. They have since been released on bail and told to report to authorities by mid-April.
On top of the arrests, police seized, among others, 242 Philippine passports which belonged to domestic workers who have availed of the illegal lending activities. Vallespin said those who used their passports as collateral will only be able to recover them once police concludes investigation on the matter.
On Mar. 14, police said persons behind the loan shark syndicate were estimated to have profited at least $2 million from the illegal activity.
Between March and October 2016, the syndicate gave loans to over 1,200 borrowers, said Chan Hon-ming, superintendent of Organized Crime and Triad Bureau of Hong Kong Police Force.
All the borrowers were Filipino domestic workers.
Arrests were made on Mar. 12 after passports were passed on by a Filipino female to the couple. Raids were also conducted at various premises.