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Senate recalls okay of PSA budget over birth certificates 'given to foreigners'

PSA birth certificates given to foreigners

The Senate on Thursday recalled the plenary approval of the proposed 2024 budget of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) over the alleged issuance of authentic birth certificates to foreign nationals which enabled them to get Philippine passports.

This developed during the Senate plenary deliberations on the proposed 2024 budget of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Thursday after Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa raised the Department of Justice’s information about ten foreigners with Philippine passports.

Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda, the sponsor of the budget of the DFA, cited the official statement of the department which found out that the “foreign nationals pose themselves as Filipinos by issuing Filipino identities through the presentation of authentic and genuine PSA birth certificate, with valid government-issued ID cards that are accepted for a passport application.”

These foreign nationals also pose themselves as persons with disabilities and they were accompanied by their so-called relatives in their passport applications, Legarda said.

Legarda said the DFA was investigating the matter and pursuing the filing of cases against the foreigners. She said the department wasworking closely with the PSA, Bureau of Immigration, National Bureau of Investigation, and the Philippine National Police to prevent similar cases in the future.

Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva said the DFA’s initial investigation indicated that the documents were actually verified by the PSA. He then moved for the recall of the budget of the agency which the Senate already approved on Wednesday.

“I will make a formal move to reconsider the submission of the budget of the Philippine Statistics Authority and direct the [Legislative Budget Research and Monitoring Office (LBRMO)] to issue the necessary notice and inform the body of the schedule of the PSA budget discussion,” Villanueva said.

GMA News Online will publish the PSA's comment on the development as soon as it becomes available.

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri initially expressed reservation in recalling the approval of PSA’s budget because it might set a bad precedent in the Senate’s budget deliberations but the majority leader’s motion was later on approved without objection.

Villanueva’s motion was also backed by Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, who said that the upper chamber supported the PSA’s budget for the improvement of their information and communications technology yet there were issues of fraud that were brought to light.

“We are funding their ICT programs to make them more efficient supposed to be in detecting fraud or whatever... How come it has proven to be ineffective as far as this issue is concerned,” Pimentel said.

Apart from recalling the approval of the PSA’s 2024 budget, Zubiri ordered a Senate investigation by either the Blue Ribbon Committee or the Committee on Public Order into the matter.

The Senate President disclosed information from the National Bureau of Investigation which indicated that a civil registry of a town in the CARAGA has been giving out birth certificates to several Chinese  that do not speak English or any Filipino language.

“We will proceed with the investigation, the soonest possible time, as soon as the budget is approved,” Zubiri said. 

Dela Rosa said this information from the DOJ was cause for alarm because it involved national security.

“Baka mamaya itong mga Chinese-speaking individuals who are not really Filipinos baka nagkalat na 'yung passports na sa kanila," Dela Rosa said.

(We might find out later that our passports already proliferated among these Chinese-speaking individuals who are not really Filipinos.)

"And before we know it, we are already being surrounded by operatives from maybe People’s Liberation Army or whatever, whoever those people are. Talagang delikado ang sitwasyon natin kung ito ay pababayaan,” Dela Rosa said.

(This is a cause for concern if we will just let this go.)

He said ordinary Filipinos are having a hard time getting Philippine passports and yet foreigners can get theirs easily. —NB, GMA Integrated News