200,000 OFWs in Italy face ‘identity crisis’

By Perseus Echeminada, The Philippine Star

Posted at Nov 24 2012 08:15 AM | Updated as of Nov 24 2012 04:15 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Some 200,000 overseas Filipino workers in Italy are facing an “identity crisis” after the Italian government issued a circular, which was approved by the former Philippine ambassador to Rome, deleting the middle names of Filipinos in all their documents.

Only the first name and surname are to be used, the spokesman for Italy-based workers disclosed yesterday.

Carlito Senicolas, the vice president and spokesman for task force OFW in Italy, told reporters during the Rembrandt News Forum in Quezon City that Filipinos are being questioned on holding two sets of documents – a passport and their Italian-issued documents.

“The burden to prove their identities is now on the Filipinos who are holding a passport with a middle name and their Italian documents that only bear the first name and surname, it’s a daily ordeal for us,” he said.

He said the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued the controversial circular with the concurrence of former ambassador to Italy Romeo Manalo.

Filipino workers were also made to pay P2,500 for dropping their middle name from their Italian documents.

Senicolas, who had worked as a taxi operator in Rome, said daily reports of Filipinos having identity problems have been increasing.

He said among the common problems encountered are in insurance claims where the Filipino claimants were not paid because of the discrepancy in the names on the passport and the Italian documents.

In some cases, Filipinos with similar names face legal problems when their names appear in the police computer database.

He said the irony is that the circular only applies to Filipinos while other foreign residents in Italy are still allowed to use their middle names in their Italian documents.

Senicolas said the saddest part of the problem is that he was compelled to erase his middle name, the only tribute he can give to his dead mother.

“I love my departed mother and deleting her name in my Italian documents is like deleting her memory,” he said.

He said the problem was already reported to the Department of Foreign Affairs but no action has been taken by the agency.