There’s a place right in the heart of the University Belt area in Manila known as “diploma alley,” where fake college degrees are blatantly on display with corresponding price tags.
Here in the UAE however, strict laws are in place with authorities giving no forbearance to offenders: dismissal from work without notice and gratuity, plus deportation with a lifetime employment ban. Taking off from this, Ambassador Constancio R. Vingno, Jr. warned Filipinos to not even think about submitting fake degrees when applying for jobs, and to make sure they get a certified true document when having someone from the Philippines obtain it for them. There have been cases about overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), who had asked another person back home to get their college transcript of records for them, ending up unwittingly submitting bogus copies instead. “Maaring malakusot ka sa una, but later it will be found out. Sira ang future mo,” Vingno said, indicating as well that some Filipinos, who may have grown accustomed to the practice of faking vital documents back home, may be wont to do it here. “Ang dami-dami na natin dito sa UAE. Kung ano nangyayari sa Pilipinas, nangyayari din dito gaya ng drugs – alam nang bawal ginagawa pa rin,” he said. His call was reiterated by Vice Consul Elizabeth Ramos, who added that resorting to fake diplomas “will prejudice your employment, entitlement for end-of-service benefits, and possibly, your legal status in the UAE.” “The Philippine Consulate General advises Filipinos against the use of fake or forged documents in Dubai. Falsification of documents is punishable by law. Use of fake documents such as school diploma and training certificates for employment purposes will prejudice your employment, entitlement for end-of-service benefits, and possibly, your legal status in the UAE,” she said. She added, “Please secure documents from official and legitimate sources. Do not fall prey to fixers. For your protection and benefit, use only authentic documents.” Arrested by CID Barney Almazar, lawyer at Gulf law, said an OFW had recently been arrested by operatives of Civilian Irregular Defense Group (CIDG) and imprisoned after it turned out the document she submitted, which she had processed by someone in the Philippines, was fake. “In her new work, she was required to have Transcript of Records or TOR,” narrated Almazar. “She had it processed back in Manila. When the documents arrived in the UAE, she had them stamped in Abu Dhabi (because she lives there). Then, when she came back to collect her documents, it was discovered that the documents were fake. She was arrested by the Civilian Irregular Defense Group (CIDG) right away,” he said. Citing the second paragraph of Article 217, the lawyer said a person can still be held liable for knowingly using a falsified document even if that individual did not personally falsify it. “Not knowing that the document was falsified is a defense as you have used it in good faith. However, by submitting a transcript of record or diploma bearing your name when you know that the contents are not true (that is, you did not graduate or were never enrolled in such school), the defense of good faith cannot be invoked since the person has personal knowledge of the falsification,” Almazar explained. ‘Serious matter’ Mike Llewellyn-Jones, managing partner at PRM International, a Dubai-based international risk management and investigative consultancy, told The Filipino Times in a phone interview that fake degrees and other vital employment documents are a concern. A report by 999, official publication of the UAE Ministry of Interior stated that 40 percent of all document fraud cases in the first half of 2014 involved forgery of educational certificates. Moreover, the report, which citing documents released by the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department, said about half of the 100 cases referred by Public Prosecution on falsification of documents were about counterfeit degrees and educational certificates “It’s a serious matter,” he said, “especially in jurisdictions, where there is a limited labor pool.” He explained: “The UAE doesn’t have an available labor pool. If you’re not employed, (you’re not supposed to be here). And so, people grab a candidate (applicant) available and they don’t do background check because it takes time doing so.” Llewellyn-Jones said what’s disheartening is that in some instances, employers only learn about the fake credentials submitted when the employee underperforms on his job. He said some visitors to the UAE will take the opportunity to land a job by all means, submitting fake college degrees among them. “To them, it’s worth the risk,” Llewellyn-Jones said. “They’re going to take a fake degree especially if they come from a poor country. Not to say that everybody is doing that.” He said the government is doing everything it can, enforcing strict laws, among them, “but at the end of the day, it’s up to the employers to do a background check.” Websites The 999 report said people may also unwittingly obtain questionable degrees from online “colleges and universities,” popping up on Facebook pages and the web, that do not have the necessary credentials, which thereby makes the certificate or diploma useless. But, as mentioned, ignorance of the fake document is not an excuse, ergo the bearer is held liable In this light, the UAE government’s Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research (MHESR) has issued a warning against websites awarding fake academic certificates and listed over 100 accredited foreign online universities in the UK, US, Australia and New Zealand recommended for UAE students. Forgery Meantime, the 999 report stated that the “most-sought after degree is the one most difficult to fake.” “There’s an awful lot of pressure for those who do have legitimate degrees to also have an MBA (Master of Business Administration) degree,” said Llewellyn-Jones in the report, explaining, “If there’s one thing that might swing a job where all the candidates have similar degrees, it must be down to which candidate has an MBA.” More qualifications certainly lead to better job offers, officials said stressing that quick-fix online degrees, worse, faking diplomas, are certainly not the right way to go for better marketability.
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