Philippine President Aquino Announces An Investigation Into Corruption Within The Military. British Insitutions are thought to be above such things.
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…….
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 such blatant corruption, if it still carries on.
I hardly think the British Ambassador, Stephen Lillie, should be going around making speeches to Filipinos advising them that their problem is corruption. 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.
We do know of other visas acquired without any corruption.