Bureau of Immigration warns travelers againts fake predeparture counseling certificates

2023 May 8

MANILA – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Monday warned travelers against the circulation of fake Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) Guidance and Counseling Program (GCP) certificates being sold by scammers.

Immigration Commissioner Norman Tansingco issued the warning after two departing Filipino women carrying fake GCP certificates were intercepted recently in two separate occasions at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

The passengers, who attempted to leave the country were intercepted by primary inspectors after suspecting the authenticity of the documents they presented.

Both also failed to present the official digital copy of the certificate supposedly issued by the CFO.

One of the victims, who was supposed to leave the country last April 30 with her Indian boyfriend, disclosed that she acquired the fake certificate from a stranger who approached her near the CFO office for a fee of PHP2,000.

The other victim, a girlfriend of a Hong Kong national who attempted to depart last May 3, allegedly employed the help of a certain ‘Ana’ whom she met online and to whom she paid PHP5,000 for the fake CFO certificate.

The CFO officer stationed at the airport confirmed that the GCP certificates were fraudulent.

Tansingco explained the importance of the GCP in countering human trafficking.

“The government imposed the pre-departure counseling services to deter trafficking in the guise of marriage and the mail-order bride scheme. This is also to ensure that migrating Filipinos know their available support network abroad in times of distress,” he said in a statement.

“Always verify the legitimacy of your transactions with authorized CFO agents only,” the BI chief added.

The GCP is a required pre-departure seminar conducted by the CFO aiming to equip Filipinos in intermarriages and bi-national relationships with adequate information on the realities of cultural and social realities overseas.

The certificates purport to show that holders have attended the GCP and therefore can leave for abroad.

The two women were turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) for further investigation. 

Ferdinand Patinio (PNA)