Travel agencies’ group seeks Cebu congressmen’s help
A group of travel agencies is seeking the help of eight Cebu congressmen to convince the Department of Foreign Affairs to reconsider the implementation of a new passport processing guideline.
The new guideline cuts the number of passports that the travel agencies are allowed to process on behalf of their clients from 20 percent to five percent starting June 29 until Dec. 31.
“We would like the DFA to reconsider. In the past we had 20 percent of the number of passports processed which suit us just fine,” said Rober Lim Joseph, chairman emeritus of the National Association of Independent Travel Agencies.
“Five percent is just too small for us to have a healthy competition. We will be writing the congressmen to lobby our concerns and review the new guidelines,” said Joseph, during a meeting yesterday with local members of Naitas at the Grand Convention Center.
This new guideline is “killing” the travel agencies and will potentially cause loss of jobs or business, said Jenny Franco, Naitas Cebu Chapter president.
“You see for 5 percent of the daily processing volume in Cebu which is 500, that easily translates to 25 passports from travel agencies only. And there are 62 travel agencies here, said Joseph.
“What are they suppose to do? Gusto ba nilang mag awayan ang mga agencies dito?” Joseph asked.
The DFA issued the guideline because DFA officials were under the perception that passports processed through the travel agencies were given special treatment by the agency, said Franco.
“That is a perception. I don’t think that is enough reason (to implement the new guideline). And they said that they want to give equal treatment to all. And so, why are they still adopting two charging rates which is P990 for regular processing and P1,200 to expedite processing?” asked Franco.
Members who attended the meeting agreed with their leaders’ views and expressed their disapproval to the new guidelines.
They said that while the DFA claimed that it would be easier to process passports through their new process, people from other provinces coming here to process their passports say otherwise.
Franco said it would inconvenient and expensive for those asked to return to the DFA office because they were excluded in the
What if those from the provinces would go to the DFA office to process their 500 passport quota for the day or brought the wrong requirements to process their passports.
“And so they go back home and then come back to Cebu. It’s a very tedious process. Everything was running smoothly in the past, why do they have to rock the boat?” asked Franco.
Democrito Cueva from Bantayan Island, Jessie Maglasang from Surigao del Sur, and Alfie Briones from Pardo, Cebu City, and Marvin Reyes of Labangon, Cebu City agreed with the travel agencies’ stance.
CDN caught up with them as they were processing their passports yesterday at the DFA. Office.
The four of them all said that the previous process was better than the new one.
Cueva, 28, had to leave Bantayan Island early to be at the DFA office in Mandaue City to renew his passport so that he could return to work in Saudi Arabia.
Cueva previously worked as a rigger in Saudi.
“It’s tiring even it was just renewing the passport because you have to fall in line to get a priority number. The previous process was better,” said Cueva in Cebuano.
Maglasang, who arrived at 4 a.m. at the DFA office, had the same complaint.
“Everything is tiring. It delays my work. The previous process was better, said Maglasang, a first timer in processing his passport for a job in Japan or China as a machine operator.
Briones, 21, from Villa Cacao Kinasang-an Pardo, Cebu City said he arrived at the DFA at 2 a.m.
Briones, who wanted to work in Riyadh, said the new process was okay but the previous one with the travel agency was better.
Reyes, for his part, said he spent P400 to come back to the DFA to get his passport, which costs P1,500.
“The previous process was better because you only have to course it to the travel agency. It’s less effort because you only have to sign the papers.
But the new process is still okay because you can learn how to process your passport,” said Reyes, who was planning to work in Malaysia as a millwright operator, in Cebuano.
After Tuesday’s meeting, the group decided to write the congressmen.
“We hope that they (congressmen) will feel for our concern and help us with this. If it goes on people can lose jobs, our LOs (liaison officers) who are our representatives to process passports in DFA and Immigration will have no more jobs. We may lose corporate clients and if worse comes to worse, some may be closing their businesses,” said Franco. /With a report from Intern Lizlie C. Barro
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