PHL officials in UAE tighten rules on affidavit of support
The Philippine Consulate General in Dubai had required expatriates securing the affidavit to be present even if they file their visit visa at the UAE Immigration through travel agencies, news site Khaleej Times reported.
Expatriates are also required under the new policy to have their affidavit of support in red ribbon.
The stricter requirements, which started July 12, stemmed from an incident where an affidavit of support was found to have the faked signatures of Vice Consul Geronimo Suliguin.
“Prior to this, travel agencies could apply on behalf of Filipino travelers to the UAE without the presence of the individuals executing the affidavit of support and without having the document submitted for red ribbon purposes," Suliguin said.
Philippine authorities learned of the faked documents after someone, who was issued such a counterfeit document, was offloaded at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport last July.
The victim reported the matter to the Consulate General, which led to an exhaustive investigation that yielded three more faked documents filed with the Consulate.
Suliguin said an initial investigation showed some unscrupulous individuals linked to a travel agency sponsoring Filipinos on a visit visa to the UAE were behind the incident.
He said his office has so far found at least four documents with his faked signatures.
"We discovered that those counterfeited documents were made on inferior quality paper," he added.
Now, he said the stricter requirement aims to ensure the document is genuine and bears the real signature of the Vice Consul.
Meanwhile, Suliguin said that on a daily basis his office furnishes a list of individuals who have been issued the affidavit to the UAE Immigration officials at the Dubai International Airport.
The move aims to ensure Filipino travelers reaching Dubai are carrying bona fide documents from the Consulate.
“We have furnished sample signatures of signatory officials and the kind of paper we are using in the issuance of the affidavit of support," he said.
Last July 12, the Consulate summoned the individuals involved in the counterfeit documents.
Some foreigners were also involved in bringing in Filipinos being lured through job offers.
An investigation showed the counterfeit documents were sold at Dh350 (roughly P 4,158) but some Filipinos still fell for this kind of arrangement due to lack of time to visit the Consulate to process the documents themselves.
Others fell for the scam for fear that they would be interviewed and would be found not qualified to sponsor their loved ones on account of low salary.
An affidavit of support issued from the Consulate costs only Dh100 (roughly P 1,188).
Also, a verbal note has been sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) requesting for an investigation of the said incidents. — LBG, GMA News