House panel oks bill requiring printing of PH map, with EEZ and Sabah, on passport
MANILA, Philippines — The House committee on foreign affairs has approved a substitute bill requiring the printing of the country’s map, including its 200-mile exclusive economic zone and Sabah, on its passports.
Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, who authored House Bill No. 6399, said that the move to require the printing of the country’s map on passports “aims to emphasize and insist on our victory on the West Philippine Sea over China in the International Arbitral Tribunal in the Hague, Netherlands, and our legal and historical rights over Sabah.
“The inclusion of the map on our travel document is a strong statement that we are asserting our sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea and our EEZ,” Rodriguez said in a statement.
House Bill No. 6399 essentially amends the Passport Law, said Rodriguez.
The lawmaker said the committee also approved the granting of a 32-percent passport discount to senior citizens in the country—including processing fees.
The committee likewise approved the online application by seniors for passport issuance and renewal in a move to do away with personal appearance by seniors at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) consular offices, said Rodriguez.
The lawmaker added that the measure also criminalizes the illegal withholding of passports by anyone, especially aliens from their holders or owners, with stiffer penalties imposed on violators.
He said that if the offender is an alien, he or she would be deported and blacklisted after service of sentence.
Rodriguez said he and his colleagues pursued the proposed amendments to honor the late Senior Citizens Partylist Rep. Francisco “Jun” Datol who recently died due to coronavirus disease.
“He was vice chairman of the committee and was author of a bill to give a lifetime validity of passports issued to senior citizens,” Rodriguez said.
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