Domestic workers at Victoria Park on Hong Kong Island. Photo: HK Government
Domestic workers at Victoria Park on Hong Kong Island. Photo: HK Government

An official at the Philippine Consulate General in Hong Kong said Filipinos who give their passports to loan sharks will not be sent home with a one-way travel document.

Consul Paulo Saret, head of the Consulate’s assistance to nationals section, said it is not the Consulate’s job to send Filipinos home for whatever reason, reported. However, he warned that replacing lost passports was a difficult process.

“We won’t give them new passports immediately. We will first seek the advice of the head office when they come to us with a request to renew their passports,” said Saret.

He also said only three Filipino domestic workers in Hong Kong had admitted losing their passports to loan sharks and asked for replacements. Their requests had been sent to the Director of Passports at the Department of Foreign Affairs for consideration.

Saret spoke up after it was revealed that a 64-year-old Hong Kong man had 878 passports belonging to domestic workers, mostly Indonesians and Filipinos. The passports were being held while the domestic workers repaid loans worth about HK$3 million at annual interest rates of more than double the legal limit of 60%.

Saret also said he would seek ways to get Hong Kong authorities to make money lenders realize the risk they are taking by giving unsecured loans to domestic workers.

Meanwhile, Consul General Antonio A. Morales and Indonesian Consul General Tri Tharyat met on July 11 to discuss issues of mutual concern including money lending, recruitment malpractices and assistance-to-nationals cases, according to a statement from the consulate’s website.

Read: Police arrest suspected loan shark who targeted maids