Senator Cynthia Villar said a law that will extend from five to 10 years the validity of passports will greatly benefit migrant workers as they travel outside the country for gainful employment and greener pastures.
Senate Bill 1365 seeks to amend Section 10 of Republic Act 8239 or the Philippine Passport Act of 1996 and extend the validity of regular Philippine passport from five to 10 years.
Villar sponsored and defended the bill on the Senate floor in her capacity as vice chairperson of the Committee on Foreign Relations.
“Much relief will be provided our overseas Filipino workers once the need to renew their passports every five years is removed. There will be less need for them to be subjected to the cumbersome and time-consuming process of applying for renewal,” the legislator said.
The lawmaker said she expects no prolonged debates at the bicameral conference committee as the version passed by the House of Representatives in February is the same as the Senate’s.
“The 5-year validity of passports of minors or those individuals under 18 years old is being retained. A minor’s passport should indeed be renewed every 5 years because a minor’s facial features change while growing up,” the lady senator added.
Villar mentioned that the 10-year validity is also in keeping with the standard practiced by other countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand.
She emphasized that passports with longer validity will complement the measures adopted by the Department of Foreign Affairs to address the long queues and ease the backlogs in both application and release of passports such as additional frontline personnel, change in the layout of work stations and locations of service providers, and the institution of a dedicated OFW lane.
The DFA reports that there are 868 of its personnel nationwide who are involved in the processing of passports. In 2016, they processed 3,123,004 applications for new passports, renewals or replacements of lost passports.
Villar also said the proposal will be beneficial to the traveling public as a whole, specially with the increased affordability of international travel nowadays.