DFA to double capacity of passport appointment system
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is aiming to double the capacity of its online passport appointment system to lessen the waiting time of applicants from three months to just three weeks.
Amid criticisms, DFA Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano announced on Friday some changes in the system in a bid to make passport application faster and more accessible to Filipinos.
Cayetano led the ceremonial launching of the 10-year validity passport that President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law in 2017 at the DFA Consular Office in ASEANA Business Park in Pasay City.
He also addressed the issues and criticisms hurled at the DFA over the constantly full appointment system and long waiting time for appointment slots to apply or renew passports.
“Doon po sa mga nagki-criticize, tinatanggap po namin ang criticism ninyo at humihingi kami ng paumanhin kung naabala kayo. Pero hindi po totoo na wala kaming ginagawa,” Cayetano said.
(“For those who are criticizing us, we accept all your criticisms and we apologize for the inconvenience it causes you. But it is not true that we are not doing anything [to address it]).”
Cayetano said that his agency has already increased the passport processing capacity from 259,176 per month in 2016 to 309,410 in 2017.
He also disclosed that they are exploring a system that would allow applicants to upload their own photos, and pay the passport fees online or through collecting partners.
Cayetano then announced that the DFA opened more passport appointment slots for January to March to give chance to those who were not able secure appointments when it opened in December 2017.
More consular offices
Cayetano said that his department has been fast tracking the opening of nine more consular offices to decongest the passport processing in Metro Manila.
There are a total of 28 consular offices nationwide.
The DFA identified the following locations as those with increased passport demand: San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte (Region 1); Santiago, Isabela (Region 2); Malolos or Meycauayan, Bulacan (Region 3); Calamba or San Pablo City, Laguna, Dasmariñas City, Cavite, and Antipolo, Rizal (Region IV-A); Oroquieta City or Ozamis City, Misamis Occidental (Region X); and Tagum City, Davao del Norte (Region XI).
Each of the consular offices would have a daily capacity of 500 to 600 applicants.
APO Production Unit, Inc., the state-owned contractor that produces the passports, is mulling over deploying printers in some regions to address the demand, Cayetano said.
He also said that he has no objection to the proposal if security could be guaranteed.
Passport on wheels
Cayetano also announced that the DFA would launch next week the Passport on Wheels (POW) program to decongest the consular offices in Metro Manila.
DFA would deploy four POWs with a capacity of 500 passport applicants per day, creating a total of 2000 slots upon its launch.
POWs are trucks that contain machines that can process passports when parked at cities, barangays, and even travel fairs. /kga
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.