Cayetano pushes for a “pro-people” passport application process
Senate to hear proposals extending passport validity
Tuesday (October 4) – The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, chaired by Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, will conduct its first public hearing today (1:30 PM) on the proposal to extend the validity of Philippine passports to ten years.
The proposal is in response to President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive to amend Republic Act No. 8239, otherwise known as the Philippine Passport Act of 1996, which sets the validity of a regular Philippine passport to five years.
The Committee will also look into the alleged delays in the passport appointment process and other related issues.
Cayetano said he recognizes the various reforms introduced by the Department of Foreign Affiars (DFA), but stressed the need to amend the 20-year-old Passport Act and introduce much-needed reforms in the country’s passport processing system to make it more “seamless, convenient, and pro-people” and abreast with technological advances and world standards.
“President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, in his State of the Nation Address, lamented that many passport applicants have to stay overnight, sleeping on pavements, because the DFA’s passport issuance facilities can only cater to a limited number of applications per day,” Cayetano relayed.
He pointed out that government agencies were established to serve and assist citizens, not to burden them with inefficiencies and incompetence. As such, he said the passport application process should be more simplified in order to ensure that applicants will no longer be troubled with unnecessary delays.
The senator cited that in 2015, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) suffered a backlog of 42,230 delayed passports. “If the DFA had not been able to deliver on its duty to issue passports within the required period of time, then the simple solution is to cut the number of people applying for licenses by extending the validity of passports to ten years,” he said.
“The DFA should make a priority the passport applications of OFWs because delays in the issuance of their travel documents can be detrimental to their job opportunities abroad,” the senator said, stressing the need to install special access facilities for OFWs in DFA’s consular and satellite offices, here and abroad.
“The passage of a law amending the 20-year old Passport Act will institutionalize the various reforms implemented by the DFA, including the provision of special lanes for senior citizens, persons with disabilities (PWDs), pregnant women and minors seven years old and below, to make the passport application and renewal more convenient for them,” he added.