UNIFIL slams 20% increase in already overpriced passport

May 5, 2010

The United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL-Migrante-HK) denounced the Gloria Arroyo administration for jacking up the price of passports for overseas Filipinos that they claimed is “already overpriced”.

The new e-passport costs Php950 in the Philippines. For those overseas availing of it, however, they will have to pay US$60 or an equivalent of Php2,700. In Hong Kong, the said passport costs more at HK$510 (US$65.7 or Php3,000), a 20% increase from its previous rate at HK$425.

“It is unnecessary, preposterous and burdensome on the part of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to charge us more than triple the price of the passport in the Philippines,” said Dolores Balladares, chairperson of UNIFIL-Migrante-HK. “If the same passport can be obtained for a much lower price in the Philippines, charging overseas Filipinos three times as much is plain and simple government extortion,” Balladares averred.

Since 1998, the UNIFIL-Migrante-HK, together with more than 80 other OFW organizations, has campaigned for the lowering of the passport’s fee. In 2002, they struck partial victory when the government was forced to lower its rate from HK$510 to HK$425.

“Until the last breath of her presidency, Arroyo cannot seem to wind up from squeezing us dry, this time through the very expensive e-passport,” said Balladares. “As she sees us as profitable exploits, she will stop at nothing to milk OFWs.”

The UNIFIL-Migrante-HK called for the immediate lowering of the passport fees for overseas Filipinos to similar rates with that in the Philippines. They will launch a signature campaign starting May 9. (Bulatlat.com)

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Dolores Balladares

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