Rome OFWs protest embassy's passport fee

Posted at 09/02/2012 7:24 PM

MANILA, Philippines – Filipino migrant workers in Italy are protesting the passport fee being charged by the Consular Office at the Philippine Embassy in Rome.

The Consular Office is currently charging applicants a fee of 60 euros for renewals for the electronic passport.

Other overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) all over the world are paying USD60 for their new electronic passports, but migrant workers in Italy who are applying for their passports in Rome are paying 60 euros, which translate to an additional P600 or more.

This is in violation of a memo by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), which instructs all embassies or consular offices all over the world to peg the passport fee at USD60.

Felix Mendoza Landicho, president of a Filipino migrants’ group federation called Task Force OFW, revealed the situation to migrant expert and recruitment consultant Emmanuel Geslani.

Landicho said the Philippine Embassy in Rome refuses to compute the payment for new passports based on the USD60 instructed by the DFA.

Another OFW based in Italy, named Rey L. Maas, sent Geslani a message through Facebook explaining the situation.

“The difference, sir, is instead of USD60 converted to euro, we are charged 60 euros. Conversion-wise, USD60 should be in the vicinity of 48-50 euros, a difference of 12 euros more or less,” Maas said. “They rounded it as 1 euro is (equal to) USD1.”

Thus, the passport fee being paid by overseas Filipinos in Italy is overpriced by 10-12 euros, which is equivalent to at least P600.

Maas said he asked the office of the Consul General last August 2010 why they are charging 60 euro instead of the proper dollar equivalent.

“His reply was, nahihirapan daw mag-compute ang finance officer, kaya ginawa na 60 euro and USD60. Worst part sir, is the machine validated receipt bears no symbol of the currency,” Maas informed Geslani.

“When asked, understood na raw yon na euro dahil ang currency sa Italy ay euro being a member of the European Union,” he added.

Maas told Geslani that he doubts the Consular Office’s reason is justifiable. He further said that in Riyadh, the passport fee costs USD50, while in Germany it costs 45 euros.

Meanwhile, Landicho is asking the House Comittee on Overseas Workers Affairs, headed by Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello, to investigate the irregularity.

He said that he plans to write a letter addressed to the Committee to investigate the matter and to require DFA officials to answer their charges regarding the passport anomaly.

Landicho has also requested a dialogue with the Philippine embassy in Rome, headed by Ambassador to Italy Virgilio Reyes. He claims that the current ambassador has rejected their request, however.