A good turn made it on Monday at the House of Representatives. They have passed a measure that would replace the country’s existing passport law. This will simplify requirements to be able to procure passports and in the same breath, they will provide the elderly and persons with disability a 50% discount on fees.
The new House Bill No. 6510, or the New Philippine Passport Act. This will repeal Republic Act No. 8239 or the Philippine Passport Act of 1996. The third and final reading went through 252 affirmative votes on Monday’s plenary session. There were no abstentions nor any negative votes.
The bill directs the Department of Foreign Affairs to implement a system where applicants aged at least 65 who are renewing their passports may submit their application without the need for a physical appearance in the Office of Consular Affairs or any consular office.
The new law will also make it illegal to withhold a person’s passport. This also carries heavier and harsher penalties for forgery and improper use of the document with a maximum six-year jail term and up to PHP2 million in fines.
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Details of the New Philippine Passport Act
As stated in the details of the New Philippine Passport Act, it aims to “harmonize the provisions of the existing Passport Law with current domestic laws and international agreements affecting the application and issuance of passports.”
“The people’s constitutional right to travel is inviolable. Accordingly, the government has the duty to issue passports or any travel document to any citizen of the Philippines or individual who complies with the requirements of this Act using, as much as practicable, the latest tamper-proof, personalization and data management technology,” the bill states.
Department of Foreign Affairs optimizes facilities for passport appointment slots
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) will be opening at least 300,000 additional passport appointment slots nationwide before 2022 ends. DFA Secretary Enrique Manalo announced, “We have opened more than 803,000 passport appointment slots and we plan to open at least 300,000 more this year or before the end of the year, We continue to finetune the online appointment system and our policies to make the passport and authentication application experience more convenient and user-friendly for the Filipino people and the public.”
Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Henry Bensurto Jr., digressed,“As part of our commitment to improving our services to the public, we have also made sure that consular services are physically convenient and very accessible to clients, especially for the senior citizens, persons with disabilities, and pregnant applicants.
They announced these details during a ribbon-cutting marking the installation and repair of elevators and escalators at the DFA Office of Consular Affairs in Aseana City, Paranaque.
Definitely good news for everyone. It’s reassuring to see that in this regard, we can vividly see that the government is working as one team to make life better for all of us. Any comments, ideas, or reactions on this? Feel free to add your comments below. We’ll be looking forward to hearing from you soon, cheers!