10-yr validity of passports passes second reading in Senate
The Senate has approved on second reading a bill extending the validity of Philippine passports from the current five years to 10 years.
No senator objected when a motion was made on the floor Monday night to approve on second reading Senate Bill No. 1365. A counterpart measure was already passed in the House of Representatives in February.
The consolidated measure in the Senate was authored by nine senators: Richard Gordon, Cynthia Villar, Ralph Recto, Joseph Victor Ejercito, Loren Legarda, Sonny Angara, Joel Villanueva, Grace Poe, and Alan Peter Cayetano, chair of the Senate committee on foreign affairs.
Under the measure, regular passports would be valid for 10 years while those of holders under 18 years old would still have a five-year validity.
Villar said the passports of many countries were already valid for 10 years. She cited the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Vietnam and Cambodia, among others.
In the Philippines, she said, passports are valid for only five years and can no longer be used six months before the expiration date.
“In effect, it’s four and a half years. It’s really cumbersome to travelers so we felt that we should lengthen it,” Villar said, responding to queries of Minority Leader Franklin Drilon during the interpellation period on the floor.
“Besides, in the Philippines, there are many poor people who are working abroad who are applying for passports. So to make life easier for them especially for our OFWs (overseas Filipino workers), who are really supporting our economy, for the information of everybody, the formal remittance of our OFWs are US 25 billion a year and the informal remittance of our OWFs is around another US 25 billion a year so it’s a total of US 50 billion. So we should always make life easy for them because they are really supporting our economy,” she said.
Villar dispelled apprehensions that extending the validity period of the passports would impact on government revenues. Passport applications, she said, increase by 30 percent every year.
“Whatever we will lose in terms of renewal will be compensated by the increasing passport because as they said, there are 104 million Filipinos and the circulation of passport as of December 2016 is only 14 million so there is still a lot of Filipinos without passport and it’s increasing 30 percent a year,” she said.
Villar said the government collects around P4 billon a year from passport applications. CBB/rga
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