MANILA –To live up to his promise of extending the validity period of Philippine passports, Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto on Tuesday urged Pres. Rodrigo Duterte to certify the bills lengthening validity from five to 10 years as “priority measures.”
Recto made this call reminding Pres. Duterte of his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) last July 2016 where he promised that passports would have longer validity.
Duterte, who has openly expressed his distaste for long lines, said that he wanted queues in all government offices shortened and travel documents, licenses validity extended.
The senator, however, pointed out that extending the validity of the passport would require a revision of Republic Act 8239, the Philippine Passport Act of 1996.
Recto previously filed Senate Bill 795, extending the passport validity to 10 years, by amending Section 10 of RA 8239 days before Pres. Duterte issued his SONA call,
In his bill’s explanatory note, Recto specifically cited the inconveniences experienced by OFWs in securing a passport.
He said that most OFWs are allowed to return to the Philippines from two weeks to a month for a vacation but the application, processing of passports “can take up that entire period.”
“This might be too short a time for OFWs to secure new passports. Many spend their entire vacation in queues for multiple government-issued permits needed for their employment,” Recto said.
The senator also pointed out that while the bill extends the passport validity to a decade, it will not cover minors in accordance with international norms that they be issued five-year passports.
Recto’s bill also grants the Foreign Affairs Secretary the right to limit the validity of a passport to less than 10 years if he deems that national security, public safety or public health or whenever the applicant’s supporting documents appear inadequate.
Recto said representatives of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) have said during budget hearings in the Senate that they do not object to the proposal.
DFA is expected to collect PHP4.6 billion from passport processing. The agency receives about 15,000 applications a day.