Philippine President Aquino Announces An Investigation Into Corruption Within The Military. British Insitutions are thought to be above such things, with Ambassador Stephen Lillie informing Filipinos that ending corruption is an important step towards achieving future economic growth.
The hearings at the Home Affairs Select Committee enquiring into the running of the UK Border Agency were hard to credit. Keith Vaz, the Chairman of the committee, asked the Head of The UK Border Authority for information about their operations, and the Head of the UKBA replied that he was unwilling to provide said information. It was entirely obvious that the UKBA has become a law unto itself.
The MPs, deprived of workable information, are at a loss as to what the actual situation has become. They nonetheless split the UKBA into two sections, launching the UK Border Force in February 2012, appointing an ex-Policeman as its Chief, to try to see if law might be enforced rather than ignored, for a change.
As a customer on the ground of the UKBA in Manila, the situation is equally perplexing. Shane and I have been trying to get visas so we can live together for over three years now, (We have two children to consider as well), and we are still awaiting the UKBA’s leisure for a UK settlement visa. We are married, and have business in the UK, where we employ eighty people full-time. We are not just mucking about.
However here in Manila we are treated as if we are a total irrelevance, and an intrusion by the UK Border Agency staff. They can’t get rid of us fast enough when we appear at The Embassy, and the impression given is that we have no right to be there. They sent one text message the day we applied for our visa, which gave the impression that they were going to communicate with us from time to time about progress, but that is not happening. Visas pre 2012 took two weeks to process. They recently decided to make that three months.
We know of cases where other applicants are giving false information to get visas, and we have heard of cases where either money or influence has expedited the granting of a visa. There are, however, only two categories of applicant who can possibly get involved in illegal activities. Either the very rich and powerful who can work through the very top level, and be sure of no consequences, or the weak and desperate, who have nothing to lose.
If you are caught out discussing or offering bribes to UKBA employees at The Embassy, you are never able to get another visa for life. As I say, only the very powerful, or the desperate will take such risks. People in our position cannot get involved with either systematic falsification of documents or discussions of payments or favours. In dealing with Philippine officials, it is said by some that corruption is the norm. As we don’t do business here, we don’t know about that. The assumption is that a British administration would be above all that kind of thing.
Falsifying information on visa applications, however, is the norm for many visa applicants here, which still get processed no problem, and are not investigated. The system looks after these applicants. They are called ‘students’. They claim to have funds which they don’t have. Nonetheless they are furnished with certificates from banks saying they do have the funds they claim, even though the banks know full well the accounts are temporarily filled with borrowed money. The ‘students’ are delivered directly to jobs in Britain, as part of the package through their ‘agents’. That is in effect organized crime.
Anyone else who has money, and is not desperate and in the hands of organized criminals, or is not connected to top politicians or very wealthy local businessmen, has to not only wait their turn, but are not expected to speak or complain about it either. We have no voice, or way to influence the situation.
I won’t be offering any bribes, I can assure the UKBA of that. We won’t be adding to the Christmas Party fund, or inviting anyone out to ‘dinner’. We don’t know, or want to know any agents who have the right contacts to act on our behalf. We only are able to talk to our MP back in Britain. Ours is Owen Paterson, Secretary Of State For Northern Ireland. He has written to Theresa May for us in the past, and is now in contact with William Hague.
Other than that, I don’t see why I shouldn’t also write on my blog about the massive inconvenience and stress we are suffering, and about the malpractice we are hearing about around the visa granting community, which is big business here. Banks regularly canvas visa applying agencies, dealing with the UKBA, offering financial certificates for applicants. The applicants don’t need to have the money of course. Someone lends them that. The UKBA won’t ask for an affidavit, or anything, so it’s risk free deception. Yet the UKBA must know most of the financial information, on which they pass visas to applicants is false, but choose not to investigate.
It is a treacherous environment, and I would be sympathetic to a UKBA employee who wanted to try to be sure he wasn’t being lied to all day and every day. But given the situation of the very head of the UKBA, where the former Chief won’t even reveal information to the Select Committee in Parliament, and was effectively at war with the Home Secretary, you wonder if a monster has been let loose, where staff are either kept in the dark as to what the heads are up to, or they are being required to take part in a system which is out of control, and they are unable to do what’s right, even if they wanted to.
We sit here each day waiting, looking forward to William Hague’s intervention bearing fruit. Otherwise having no further part to play in the visa business, we are of little interest to anyone. We, along with many other honest traders, are made to sit on the sidelines (See the Embassy’s Facebook page for others saying the same kind of things). Our business in the UK suffers and the jobs of eighty and more people are placed at risk.
If I hear a word of any kind from the UKBA, I will report it. How can they let thousands of people sit for weeks and months on end with no communication at all? They have our phone numbers, email addresses and actual addresses. They have our financial accounts, our private photographs and our inside leg measurements. I am sure the agents processing all those ‘students’ don’t get ignored for months on end, and told to go away. British Citizens are the only ones not wanted at The British Embassy.
Road Hog writes –
UKBA is run by a self confessed Common Purpose lover.
“I like Common Purpose’s Collab process, which brings together a diverse group of organisations into networks. This particular evaluation report relates to using the approach to improve the safety and wellbeing of children, young people and their families; and in my view, this approach would lend itself well to building local alignment for community budgets. Common Purpose has also developed a broader approach to local partnership platforms.”
Above quote from this article from the now current head of UKBA.
Under the bits and bobs to read section.
TAP – Oh dear. David Cameron goes (in secret) to all Common Purpose conferences. They are effectively the United Nations readying to take over after the collapse of democracy, and the break-up of nations into a series of ‘community budgets’, where children are brought up by the state and are separated from their parents. Democracy will be collapsed by ensuring no political party is ever strong enough to win a majority. After that, we will never get a voice again. Maybe William Hague will try to do something to assist the continuation of free human existence…….Readers, who are following our story, will know how much trouble we’ve had getting visas from the UK Border Agency in Manila over a period of three years. The Home Secretary, Theresa May, eventually took an interest in our situation, after our MP, Owen Paterson, Sec Of State Northern Ireland, wrote to her, outlining the difficulties we were experiencing. This intervention enabled Shane to eventually get a six months visitors visa in April 2011. We got the visitor’s visa, after two and a half years of trying.
Sean’s 3 month birthday party a week ago. He has his British Passport, but his mother doesn’t have a visa. We’re stuck – again.
We met in March 2008. Shane, now my wife, came over to the UK last April 2011, to find, on her arrival, that she was expecting Sean. She returned to the Philippines in October 2011, and gave birth to Sean on January 3rd 2012. We married on February 18th 2012. It is now April 2012, and we thought it might not be unreasonable for us to apply for a UK settlement visa.
We lodged our application two weeks ago, and received a text by phone within a day announcing that the Embassy was experiencing delays in replying to visa applications. As it’s Easter week, we accepted that as not unreasonable and waited until now expecting a response. We had to cancel a side trip to Taiwan today, where we had a couple of business appointments to source goods for a business venture, where we are assembling and servicing racing vehicles. But there you are. That’s life.
But is it? We found out today from another couple that they waited three months before they received an answer to their visa application here. And another couple told us they waited a month, before making an appointment to progress chase, and then waited two more weeks.
In December 2011, the UKBA closed their Indonesia office and told all visa applicants throughout Indonesia they had to go to the Manila office in the Philippines. This has inevitably brought logjam in Manila as there is not the space available within the British Embassy Manila to double up the scale of operations.
We don’t want to be separated again, and we do have lives to go to in the UK, children, family, businesses etc. I employ eighty people in one set-up, and am starting a new business this year, which needs attention each day. Does our own Embassy feel it is satisfactory to descend into Third World chaos and inconvenience people on the grand scale? We will be finding out by going in there tomorrow to get an appointment.
As I say, it’s been three long years since we first applied for a UK visa. We won’t be going away anytime soon. What else can we do, but go there and beg in person? We will keep you posted as to what happens tomorrow, and see if we can navigate this most unpleasant situation in timely fashion.
Owen Paterson, Secretary Of State, Northern Ireland. Do you think he needs this in his mail bag all over again?
Failing success, we will be writing to Owen Paterson our MP forthwith for further support. He might be fed up with my constant emails about chemtrails, but he too has to breathe them, as does his family. This visa burden we are suffering alone, stuck endlessly waiting without a clue what date we might expect to be able to get on with our otherwise busy lives. It’s not good enough.
UPDATE – We called in at The Embassy first thing. The guard called the UKBA’s office and the reply came back that they don’t know how many months a visa response will take. I pointed out that that was not a great reply, and that I needed something better than that. Whereupon a delegate appeared and came out and talked to us. He explained that the published figure for visa response on The Visa Section’s website was three months.
I thanked him for his information, but said that it was odd they texted us after one day saying that visa responses were being delayed. That gave the impression that responses were to be expected within days, as was the case in all our earlier visa applications, but that was before the closure of the Indonesia office, which has materially changed the situation, our agents tell us.
The agents originally told us to expect a visa reply within two weeks, which was normal pre-the Indonesia closure, and is as we experienced ourselves on a few occasions. The agents now admit that visa response times are nearer, not three months but four to five weeks.
I wish they had told us, as I am now having to change my return ticket to the UK forwards a month, costing over $1000, and I’m having to rebuy a ticket to Taiwan as we expected to have my wife’s passport back by now. That’s costing another $600. There goes $1600 in a day.
We will base all our decisions from here on the visa coming through within three more weeks i.e. five weeks total, and not three months. That would require yet another journey back to the UK and another return to the Philippines at the end of June, more separation from each other, and more separation from my four year old son who waits for us patiently in the UK. He can’t wait to meet his little brother, as above, and he longs to be all together as a family as soon as the UKBA can find their way to allowing us to be together.
Here he is singing yesterday. (Sorry. Removed)
Mum and Dad will be with you just as soon as we can.
He gets out the scissors and paper, and cuts pieces into squares, telling my family there that he’s making visas. He wants his parents, you see.
Comment from Gordon Logan –
I read about your visa problem on the Tap. Very unpleasant. There was a time when British Embassies were actually British. Now they’re globalized and alien to us. Britain really is dead.
I was concerned when I read that you were going back to Manila. Once they get you out of the UK, it’s a new ball game, and you may have some unpleasant surprises.
We lost our recent case. The decision was ludicrous. They said that we were entitled to live anywhere in the EU, but not in the UK!
An illegal piss-take of course, so we’ll appeal.
MPs slam UK Border Agency ‘Bunker Mentality’
Published on Wednesday 11 April 2012 01:21
The under-fire UK Border Agency must rid itself of its “bunker mentality” or risk raising suspicions that it is trying to mislead parliament and the public, MPs warned today.
Unclear data – which even the agency’s own chief executive, Rob Whiteman, had difficulty in following – can be at best confusing and at worst misleading, the House of Commons home affairs select committee said.
“It is difficult to see how senior management and ministers can be confident that they know what is going on if the ‘agency’ cannot be precise in the information it provides to this committee,” the third damning report of the year into the UKBA’s work said.
“The ‘agency’ must rid itself of its bunker mentality and focus on ensuring that Parliament and the public understands its work.
“Confusion over figures only risks suspicion that the ‘agency’ is attempting to mislead Parliament and the public over its performance and effectiveness.
“The only way the Home Office can allay and remove these fears is to clean up and clarify all the figures that are used in these reports.”
Dame Helen Ghosh, the permanent secretary to the Home Office, should also set out how she “intends to clean up the use of statistics within the department”, the committee said.
Theresa May – Mrs May said: “The Vine report reveals a Border Force that suspended important checks without permission; that spent millions on new technologies but chose not to use them; that was led by managers who did not communicate with their staff; and that sent reports to ministers that were inaccurate, unbalanced and excluded key information.
TAP – It’s not exactly an encouraging situation to be waiting day after day, with no communication forthcoming, and lots of talk of incompetence or worse emanating from the British media, let alone from local Immigration professionals in Manila.
The Home Affairs Select Committee In The British Parliament
It calls on for the Home Office to act immediately to deal with the public scepticism in the effectiveness of the UK Border Agency and to require clarity in the information it produces for both the public and Parliament.
TAP – That has got ot happen. With the current system, there is nil political accountability. Things are happening thatshouldn’t be happening from top to bottom.
UPDATE – April 11th 2012 Owen Paterson has written to William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, on our behalf. UPDATE Sunday 15th April 2012. I met an old friend today while playing tennis, who accompanied a Filipina to the British Embassy’s appointed agents, asking for a visa. During the interview he was propositioned directly that if he paid Php 30,000 (about GBP 500) the girl would receive a visa without any question. That was two years ago. A friend of his reported the same thing happening a year ago, except ‘the going rate’ had climbed somewhat.
How can the visa agent employee be so sure he could get a visa issued unless the corruption went all the way into the UKBA inside the Embassy? There are, incidentally, only four British UKBA staff working there. There are thousands of visa applicants every month. You can only imagine the sums of money potentially being made from this blatant corruption.
I hardly think the British Ambassador, Stephen Lillie, should be going around making speeches to Filipinos advising them that corruption is their problem.. It looks like the British could have a multi-million pound problem all of their own. Until the UKBA is sorted out, Britain ought to be keeping very quiet indeed on that particular topic.