Proposed ‘new passport law’ hurdles House
MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives on Tuesday approved on third and final reading the bill replacing the Philippine Passport Act of 1996 with a new passport rule.
With 210 votes in favor and no opposing votes, the lower chamber passed House Bill No. 8513 or the “New Philippine Passport Act.”
The bill seeks to simplify the passport documentation requirements of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Office of Consular Affairs in conformity with relevant laws and existing standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization.
It also requires the issuance of passports using tamper-proof and latest data management technology.
Under the bill, the DFA must implement a system where senior citizens may renew their passports without personal appearance through available technology.
Senior citizens and persons with disabilities (PWD) are also entitled to a 50% discount on the processing, issuance, or replacement of a passport.
The proposed new passport law likewise allows the DFA to charge no more than 50% of the current fees relating to passport services to be utilized to improve its passport processing and consular services.
Acts of illegal withholding a passport and forging visa and entry documents are also declared as passport related offenses under the bill.
Stiffer penalties relating to the issuance, forgery, and improper use of passports and travel documents, as well as multiple possession of passports, are also provided in the bill.
The proposed law also deletes the provision on travel or recruitment agencies’ accreditation since DFA does not authorize such agencies anymore to apply for passports on behalf of the applicants.
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