New PH Passport Act advances in Senate
Senator Imee Marcos, chairperson of the chamber’s panel on foreign relations, said conferees on the bicameral meeting have discussed minor changes on Senate Bill No. 2001 and House Bill No. 6510.
The measure seeks to develop a “new generation of passports” that align with international standards.
It also aims to streamline the application process by allowing non-appearance in the renewal of passports, especially for senior citizens and Filipino migrant workers.
According to Marcos, among the highlights of the discussions include the following:
- Minor changes in Section 3 of the bill: In the definition of terms, page 3, lines 1 and 2 – “That performs consular and related functions” was deleted and replaced with “where passporting and consular services are provided.”
- In addition to the definition of the term, consular services was modified by the addition of the phrase enumerated under Article 5 on consular relations — a more precise definition.
- Section 5 was modified to include a registered, signed, and sworn statement of the election of Philippine citizenship for those born before January 17, 1973 of Filipino mothers and who elected Philippine citizenship upon reaching the age of majority as one of the acceptable documents
- Section 11 on the passport database was amended to add the word “have” to allow the Department of Foreign Affairs to outsource operations of the databases to a third party, in view of the department’s lack of expertise in handling databases
- Section 16 was amended to delete the clause on a 20 percent discount for senior citizens and persons with disabilities
- Section 22B was modified to increase the penalty for offenses relating to forgery from 12 to 15 years
- Section 22D was likewise modified to increase the penalty on offenses relating to improper use of passports and other travel documents from 12 to 15 years
- Section 22E was modified to change the penalty for false statements from 18 months to 6 years to six years to 12 months
“Those were the highlights. I am glad to say that we derived concurrence on the rest of the major provisions,” said Marcos during Wednesday’s plenary session.
Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva then moved for the adoption and ratification of the report.
With no objections from all senators, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri declared the measure as adopted and ratified.