Today's Punto
Today's Punto
Businessmen express relief with DFA passport reforms
By Ashley Manabat

Sep 12, 2017

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO – The passport reforms now being implemented by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) have earned the accolade of the business community here.

Rene Romero, vice chairman of the Pampanga Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (PamCham), said the chamber is relieved with the passport reforms.

He described the reforms as necessary on the passport processing system to make it more seamless and convenient to the people.

Romero said the passport reforms are pro-people.

President Rodrigo Duterte last month signed an act extending the validity of Philippine passports from five to 10 years.

Republic Act 10928 amends Republic Act 8239 or the Philippine Passport Act of 1996.

Regular passports issued under the act will be valid for 10 years except for individuals under 18 years of age, who will still have passports with five-year validity.

Among the reforms was the opening of 1,200 slots that had been redistributed to the public starting August 1. The slots had initially been reserved daily for DFA employees and for travel agencies.

The DFA said under its new policy, clients of travel agencies should go through the same process as all other applicants when applying for or renewing a passport.

Under the new system, the DFA said only immediate family members of its employees – parents, spouse, children, siblings, grandparents, grandchildren and parents-in-law – would have access to its express lane.

The courtesy lanes are now reserved to senior citizens, persons with disabilities, pregnant, solo parents, children 7 years old and below, and overseas Filipino workers.

With the newly freed up courtesy lane slots, the DFA said it would expand the courtesy lane to OFWs who are working abroad for the first time.

Apart from these reforms, the DFA said it also opened thousands of appointment slots after it increased the consular offices’ appointment quotas and cleaned up bogus appointments created by unscrupulous individuals.

A total of 94,350 additional slots were opened from July to August, while 86,889 have been added so far for September, the DFA said.

The agency said it already brought down to zero the backlog of 33,000 applications pending investigation under the Automated Fingerprint Identification System.

RA 10928 is a consolidation of Senate Bill 1365 and House Bill 4767 which were approved by the Senate and the House of Representatives on May 17 and May 16, respectively.

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