Senator Grace Poe batted for the inclusion of an “anti-passport price increase” provision in the 2018 budget of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in order to freeze the fee for the travel document even if its validity will be extended to 10 years pursuant to a new law.
“We can add one line which stipulates that the allocation is subject to the condition that the amount DFA will charge for a 10-year passport will not be increased and will remain the same as the fee for the current five-year passport,” Poe said, explaining that she will introduce an amendment to the proposed P19.56-billion DFA budget for 2018 when the Senate tackles the agency’s spending plan.
The provision, the legislator said, can be imposed as a condition in appropriating P3.1 billion for the purchase of passport booklets next year.
If the number of pages will remain, then there is no reason to jack up the price, the lawmaker stressed.
The DFA charges P950 for “regular processing” or passport delivery within 15 working days and P1,200 for “express processing” within seven working days.
President Duterte signed into law last Aug. 2 Republic Act 10928 which extends the period of validity of a Philippine passport from five to 10 years, except for those of minors which would only have a five-year validity.
“Gusto lang nating siguraduhin na ang passport na doble ang haba ng bisa ay hindi magiging doble ang presyo ng pagkuha,” the lady senator said.
She said that for most Filipino travellers, the 44-page current passport, 39 pages of which are stampable, would suffice. “Hindi naman lahat ng Pinoy jetsetter.”
“If the DFA will issue a passport that will have more pages, then the best recourse is to maintain the current price, or call for extensive hearings, especially among OFWs, if they plan to charge more,” Poe said.
About three million Filipinos apply for new passports or renew theirs annually.
“Hindi na kailangang tumubo pa ang ating pamahalaan sa pag-issue ng isang dokumento na kailangan ng ating mga OFW sa kanilang hanapbuhay. Higit P1.34 trillion ang remittances nila last year. Ang abot-kayang passport ang sukli natin sa kanilang mga sakripisyo,” she said.