17 February 2009
RP posts abroad already overcharging OFWs; group vows to oppose any increase in passport and other consular fees
Receiving reports about the impending 25% increase in passport fee and other consular fees to be imposed by RP posts in Europe, the largest alliance of overseas Filipino workers' organizations in the Middle East today said Philippine Embassies and Consular offices in the Middle East are already overcharging OFWs, "Thus, we say "No to fee increases", either it is passport fee or other consular fees collected by RP posts here in the Middle East," declared by John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.
Monterona averred Philippine Embassies and Consular offices in the Middle East are already overcharging OFWs.
He said that in Saudi Arabia for instance, the Philippine Embassy and the Philippine Consulate office is charging 200 riyals for passport renewal and 100 riyals for certification and authentication per documents.
"200 riyals is equivalent to Php.2,480 based on the current riyal-peso exchange rate which is 1:12.40; whereas passport renewal in the Philippines would amount to Php.750; thus passport fee collected by RP posts is triple higher than the fee in the Philippines," Monterona added.
Monterona said with regards to certification and authentication of documents, Philippine embassies and consular offices in the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia are charging OFWs an average fee of 100 riyals per document which is about Php.1,240
"We do understand costs of services offered by RP posts abroad could be higher compared the cost of services in the home land, but fees that are tripled or 300% higher compared to what is being charged in the homeland is not at all fair and just," Monterona added.
Monterona further said in the case of passport renewal, personal appearance is already required because of the changed to machine-readable passport type.
"If for instance, an OFW is far away from the embassy or consular office let us say coming from the Northern region or Eastern region, an OFW would spend an additional amount of not less than 300 riyals for his or her fare going to the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh and Consular office in Jeddah," Monterona said.
With meager income that is ranging to 1,200 to 2,200 riyals per month for many OFWs, certainly 200 riyals plus 300 riyals travel expenses is too burdensome for OFWs who need to renew his or her expired passport.
Monterona said in some instances, the employer or the company provides transportation for their expatriate workers who will be renewing their passport or need to get a certification and authentication. "There are employers who simply charge and deduct the fare against OFW's salary and mark him absent during that day," Monterona averred.
"Our embassy and consular officials must be made aware of such difficulties; and an increase in passport fee and other consular fees that is reportedly imposed by RP posts in Europe would not do any better, only additional burden, to OFWs here in the Middle East amid impending job losses," Monterona ended.
Migrante-Middle East has already asked its chapters to conduct consultations among OFWs and their organizations to arrive unities and collective actions to protest any move by the Arroyo administration imposing increases in passport fee and other consular fees.
John Leonard Monterona
Migrante Middle East regional coordinator
Mobile No.: 00966 564 97 8012