29 March 2012--The Philippine Embassy in Kuala Lumpur said today that the two Philippine consular mobile offices in Sabah and the Embassy are aware of the attempted submission of spurious birth certificates by some passport applicants who are abetted by a few placement agencies, and have earlier on undertaken corrective measures.

"The consular mobile team in Kota Kinabalu recently confiscated 11 forged birth certificates, while the team in Tawau rejected 12 birth certificates. Our consular mobile teams have been vigilant in protecting the integrity of the Philippine passport," the Embassy said.

It made the clarification in view of media reports that some applicants have resorted to procuring falsified documents in order to beat the April 10 deadline for the Sabah 5P amnesty program.

The consular teams and the Embassy have likewise placed a placement agency that is said to have abetted the forgeries under investigation, and in the interim will not entertain passport applications coursed through that agency.

The Embassy also clarified that the said agency offers its services to facilitate the documentation requirements of Filipino workers in Sabah and process their work permits, and generally does not recruit workers in the Philippines for Sabah's vast plantation estates.

It likewise called for adherence to strict standards of professionalism and ethics by placement agencies in Sabah, some of which are Filipino-run.

"Let us not exploit for financial gains the difficulties experienced by many of our compatriots who would like to regularize their status," the Embassy urged.

The Embassy also welcomed the call for a joint probe by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the National Statistics Office (NSO) on the matter.

"There are some local civil registrars in Mindanao who are in cahoots with these agencies. Some policing in their ranks are also needed," it said.

"A long-term solution to the often lack of birth certificates and other identity documents by Filipinos here, including those born in the Philippines as well as in Sabah, is for the NSO to conduct sustained civil registration drives in Sabah. Most of our Filipino compatriots in Sabah have been here for years, and they have difficulties in going back home and securing documents. This civil registration drive is a much-needed measure which has been vigorously recommended and long-sought by the Embassy and the DFA," the Embassy stated.