Dozens of Filipina domestic workers in Hong Kong have taken to social media to appeal for help in getting their passports back after pawning them with an unlicensed money-lending company that was raided by police on Thursday.
The OFC company’s offices on Des Voeux Road in Central and Wan Chai in Hong Kong and Kowloon’s Sham Shui Po were raided, sunwebhk.com reported. It was not clear how many Filipinos had lost their passports and if all those held in the OFC’s three offices were all seized.
Consul Paul Saret, head of the assistance to nationals (ATN) section, said if the police seize passports in connection with a suspected offense, the passports will be kept as evidence, which is what happened in at least two recent cases involving unlicensed loan sharks.
The consulate, in accordance with standard operational procedures, will cancel the passport and require the holder to apply for a replacement at the main passport office of the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila.
He advised those who believe their passports were seized in the raid on the OFC offices to report to the ATN immediately so they can verify the information, and get advice on what to do next.
Some of the borrowers reported that staff members at OFC had given assurances that they could still get their passports back from the police if they paid their outstanding loans.
One Filipina said she had been working in Hong Kong for only eight months and was scared she would be sacked if her employer found out about the loan. Another worried that her visa would be revoked because she no longer has the passport in which it was stamped.