By Dhel Nazario
The Southern Police District (SPD) presented on Wednesday 23 alleged fixers who were nabbed for reportedly selling passport appointment slots in separate entrapment operations in ASEAN, Parañaque City; Libertad, Pasay City and in Gate 3 Plaza, Taguig City.
According to SPD Police Chief Supt. Tomas Apolinario Jr., he received a letter from the DFA seeking assistance to investigate the reported existence of fixers selling passport appointment slots to applicants.
The sale of online appointment slots according to the DFA is a scam. DFA added that passport appointments are free and that they discourage applicants from securing online appointment through fixers.
The SPD constructed a composite team to conduct surveillance in different DFA offices in the National Capital Region last February 15. On the dates of February 15 to 16 the formed team assessed the existence of fixers in Megamall, Mandaluyong and in ASEANA, Macapagal Ave., Pasay City.
Apolinario said that he later attended an inter-agency meeting at the DFA main office and discussed the result of the surveillance conducted from February 15-16. A supplemental letter was issued by the DFA, requesting to push through with the investigation as well as the possible apprehension and prosecution of those involved in the said scam.
Investigation by the SPD composite team between February 21-22, who posed as passport applicants revealed two modus operandi among DFA offices: Fixers offering a reserve slot they got from their contacts inside DFA; and fixers who arrange special treatment for the applicants with the use of endorsement letters coming from a ranking government official.
Investigators said that an initial payment of P7,000 will be paid to a certain female fixer of a certain agency situated just across Macapagal Avenue from DFA. Applicants will then be advised to appear in formal attire at the DFA.
Other applicants will receive a telephone call from the fixer telling them to proceed first to the agency where they will be met by a tall guy who will explain to them that the interviewer at the DFA on that day is not among their contacts and should postpone the appointment until their insider conducts the interview.
The Southern Police District then launched an entrapment operation on Wednesday against the alleged fixers in ASEAN, Parañaque City; Libertad, Pasay City and in Gate 3 Plaza, Taguig City which led to the arrest of the 23 individuals.
The arrested suspects will be charged for violation of R.A. 9485 or the Anti-Red Tape Act, estafa and other more charges once the investigation against them and their alleged contacts inside DFA is finished. The SPD is continuing the probe on each arrested fixer, and their suspected connection.