Philippine passports, among several government-issued documents, were being peddled by travel agencies to Chinese tourists through a messaging application, Senator Risa Hontiveros revealed during a Monday Senate inquiry.
"Ino-offer ng Chinese tour agency ang passport ng Republika ng Pilipinas. They offer to process LTO driving license even using tourist visa," Hontiveros, chair of the Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations, and Gender Equality, said while showing screenshots of a WeChat message.
"They will even produce a birth certificate for you," she added.
The senator also claimed that tour agencies were also offering to scrub Chinese nationals' names from Philippine immigration blacklists, and offer airport releases if they were barred entry.
"Tour agencies are advertising these services freely. These criminal services," said Hontiveros.
In response, the Department of Tourism said it would help the Senate committee check the accreditation of travel agencies allegedly involved in the scheme.
According to whistleblower Allison Chiong, the travel agency Empire International Travel and Tours processed most of the visa upon arrival (VUA) holders she handled as an officer of the Bureau of Immigration.
Liya Wu, representing the agency, refuted the claim that it processed the VUA of Chinese tourists who ended up working for Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators.
Wu said that the company, which had been operating since 1998, was accredited by the Philippine government and was not involved in illegal activities. — DVM, GMA News