One of the hardest and time-consuming processes that Overseas Filipino Workers have to endure is getting their passports for the first time. Thankfully, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA)had opened more slots to passport applicants, and a courtesy lane for Filipinos working abroad for the first time.
Anyone who has tried acquiring a passport can vouch it is quite difficult to set an appointment, with only the next few months available to be scheduled. This results to many applicants turning to travel agencies who promise quick processing of the travel document.
The agency responded to this red tape by removing the 1,200 slots a day that was used to be reserved for travel agencies since August 1. According to Ricarte Abejuela III, acting director of the Passport Division of the Office of Consular Affairs, applicants who are clients of travel agencies will now go thru the same process as everyone.
DFA has also restricted the relatives of DFA employees who can be accommodated at the fast lanes. In the new policy, only immediate family members of DFA employees can access the express lanes.
“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 7 years old and below, and overseas Filipino workers,” Abujuela said.
“Our policy now is that no OFW should be left without a job just because he couldn’t get a passport,” he added.
DFA also increased the quotas for consular offices and purged the system of bogus appointments, thus freeing thousands more of passport appointment slots.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano promised to scrap the passport appointment system to give way to walk-in passport applicants at the DFA.