By Benjamin Pulta
MANILA — Authorities have cracked a syndicate selling appointment dates to passport applicants at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Director Dante Gierran identified the four suspects as Pedro “Peter” Abulencia, Marlon Fria, Edie Boy Awa-ao and Lito Awa-ao.
A certification from the DFA Human Resources Management Office showed the four do not appear to have been employees of the DFA.
The NBI Anti-Organized Transnational Crime Division (AOTCD) arrested the four suspects charging PHP2,500 to PHP6,000 for early passport appointments in an entrapment operation at the DFA ASEANA office.
They were taken for inquest proceedings before the Paranaque prosecutors’ office for estafa and violation of the Anti-Red Tape Law.
In January, the DFA started issuing Philippine passports with 10-year validity pursuant to Republic Act 10928 signed by President Rodrigo Duterte.
Senior Citizens, persons with disability (PWDs), solo parents, pregnant women, minors and overseas Filipino Workers are exempt from securing prior appointment and enjoy priority lanes.
Illegal recruiters nabbed
Meanwhile, two illegal recruiters were arrested by the NBI Bacolod Office for illegally recruiting would-be golf course workers and requiring them P150,000 for placement fees and document processing supposedly for jobs in North Carolina.
Annie Bermejo and Jonas Rivera were arrested by NBI-AOTCD operatives for large-scale illegal recruitment.
The two were earlier named in a complaint two years ago in June 2015 by the Overseas Criminal Investigation Office (OCI) who sought the assistance of the NBI Bacolod Office in the investigation of illegal recruitment activities of Ampersand Trading Opportunities Management which recruited seven workers for North Carlona and required them to pay PHP150,000 for placement and processing of documents despite not being registered with the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency.
The NBI acted under a warrant of arrest issued by Bacolod RTC Branch 49 last August.
Last February, the subjects were back in business under a new name, Golden Lining Skills Development And Consultancy Services Inc. which processes student internship applications supposedly for culinary, turfgrass management and hospitality services to the United States.
The firm coaches applicants to lie in their application. (PNA)