MANILA— The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has adopted further policy reforms to make more appointment slots for passport applications available to the public.
The DFA removed the 1,200 slots reserved daily for travel agencies, thus they are no longer entitled to fixed appointment slots for their clients’ passport application and renewal. The policy was put in place last Aug. 1.
Ricarte B. Abejuela III, Acting Director of the Passport Division of the Office of Consular Affairs, said clients of travel agencies should now undergo the same process all other applicants undergo when applying for or renewing a passport.
DFA employees themselves would also have to make adjustments after their privilege to use the courtesy lane was restricted also starting Aug. 1.
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.
“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 seven years old and below, and overseas Filipino workers,” Abejuela said in a statement.
He noted OFWs who are working abroad for the first time can avail of the courtesy lane.
Aside from these reforms, the DFA opened 94,350 additional slots from July to August after it increased the consular offices’ appointment quotas and cleaned up bogus appointments created by unscrupulous individuals.
It also successfully brought down to zero the backlog of 33,000 applications pending investigation under the Automated Fingerprint Identification System.
The DFA issues 10,000 passports daily in the Philippines. The number increases to 12,000 during peak season.