Radyo Natin

DFA gives back passport appointment slots to the public

PASAY — The Department of Foreign Affairs will no longer allow travel agencies to have fixed appointment slots for passport applications and renewal for their clients to make more slots available to the public.
This follows the removal of 1,200 slots reserved daily for travel agencies, which were converted into additional slots for regular applicants. The policy was put in place on 01 August 2017.
According to Ricarte B. Abejuela III, Acting Director of the Passport Division of the Office of Consular Affairs, with the DFA's new policy, clients of travel agencies should undergo the same process all other applicants undergo when applying for or renewing a passport.
"We want to give back the appointment slots to the Filipino public," Abejuela said.
According to Abejuela, travel agencies are not the only ones who need to make adjustments "for the greater good."
DFA employees themselves would also have to make adjustments after their privilege to use the courtesy lane was restricted beginning August 1st. Under the new system, only immediate family members of DFA employees — parents, spouse, children, siblings, grandparents, grandchildren and parents-in-law — have access to the DFA's express lane.
The significant reduction in the daily courtesy lane slots reserved for the DFA employees has resulted in a further increase in daily slots for applicants who should be entitled to the courtesy lane.
"So we all need to make changes for everybody's sake. We really want to give back the courtesy lane to those who are entitled to it. These are the senior citizens, persons with disabilities, pregnant, solo parents, children 7 years old and below, and Overseas Filipino Workers," Abujuela emphasized.
With the newly freed up courtesy lane slots, Abejuela said the DFA was also able to expand the definition of OFWs who can avail of the courtesy lane. The privilege can now be enjoyed by OFWs who are working abroad for the first time.
"Our policy now is that no OFW should be left without a job just because he couldn't get a passport," he added.
Aside from these reforms, the DFA has also made available thousands of appointment slots after the agency increased the consular offices' appointment quotas and cleaned up bogus appointments created by unscrupulous individuals. 94,350 additional slots were opened from July to August, while 86,889 have been added so far for September.
The DFA also successfully brought down to zero the backlog of 33,000 applications pending investigation under the Automated Fingerprint Identification System. (PIA)
Iyaz Kamias
Maja Limuyak
Valeen Kinitan

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Last Modified: 2017-Sep-19 23.31.24 UTC+0800