Senator Cynthia Villar commended the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) for the launching of a program that will make passport applications more accessible to Filipinos.
Passport on Wheels (POW), which was initiated by Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, was launched recently at the Villar SIPAG in Las Pinas and served about 1,500 applicants.
“The reforms we are now seeing at the DFA such as the opening of more appointment slots and this POW project seek to address concerns about passport applications and consular services to Filipinos.”
“The reforms we are now seeing at the DFA such as the opening of more appointment slots and this POW project seek to address concerns about passport applications and consular services to Filipinos,” Villar said.
The veteran legislator, who was guest of honor during the event, was the principal sponsor of Republic Act 10928 or the law extending to 10 years the validity of passports in her capacity as then vice chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.
The law amended Section 10 of Republic Act 8239 or the Philippine Passport Act of 1996 extending the validity of regular passports from five years to a period of 10 years. For individuals under 18 years of age, only a passport with five-year validity shall be issued.
The seasoned lawmaker noted that the DFA has started issuing passports with 10-year validity since January 1, 2018, with no additional cost.
“What is commendable about the POW project is that it brings the passport processing facility closer to the people. It dispenses with the need to schedule an appointment with DFA Consular Service online to apply for new passports or to renew old ones,” the lady senator said.
At present, DFA has four mobile vans equipped with five passport data capturing machines. Each van is capable of processing 500 passport applicants.
POW will be manned and operated by trained DFA personnel who will process passports, together with APO personnel as encoders.
Initially, the project is expected to deliver passport services to different locations in the National Capital Region not currently served by DFA’s six mall-based Consular Offices in Metro Manila starting January 2018.
As a requirement, passport applications submitted to the partner local government unit or partner organization, such as Villar SIPAG, will undergo pre-screening by the DFA a day before the holding of POW in the locality to make sure that the applications are in order.