The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Monday announced that it has opened passport application sites in five malls in Metro Manila to address the current backlog and accommodate more applicants.

Brigido Dulay, Undersecretary for Civilian Security and Consular Affairs, said the temporary offsite centers are located in SM Mall of Asia, SM North Edsa, SM Aura, Robinson’s Place Las Piñas, and Robinsons Magnolia.

There is also a plan to open more sites outside the National Capital Center (NCR) Plus area, covering not only Metro Manila but Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal as well, he added.

“This will resolve the current backlog and address the high demand for passports,” Dulay told an online press briefing.

Dulay said the temporary passport venues are already in operation.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country, many passport applicants have been experiencing delays in their application or are having a hard time securing an appointment for renewal or application.

Dulay said each offsite consular sites, which will operate from Monday to Saturday, have the capacity to accept 500 appointments daily.

These slots, he said, are on top of the 177,500 daily passport applications received by the DFA’s consular offices across the country and in its main office in Pasay City.

DFA’s online appointment system for passports can be accessed through www.passport.gov.ph.

The temporary sites will operate until September this year, Dulay said.

Before the pandemic, the DFA has been processing 13,000 passport applications a day, but due to government health restrictions, Dulay said the department had to reduce its workforce and reduce the capacity of walk-in applicants inside the consular offices.

Currently, the DFA can only accommodate 6,167 slots a day, he said.

In case of emergency and urgent travel, Dulay advised the public, particularly Overseas Filipino workers, to send the DFA an e-mail to request for a slot.

“Send us an email so we can process and assess your request,” he said.

Dulay, on the other hand, appealed to the public to wait for the situation to stabilize if they do not need to travel at the moment to free up more slots. 

The DFA official also warned about groups selling appointment slots to the public, adding that appointments are free.

“Huwag sana nila ipatronize itong mga klaseng nago-offer ng appointment slots sapagka’t di kayo nakakasigurado na ito ay legal o totoo,” Dulay said.

(Please do not patronize these kinds of people offering appointment slots because we are not sure if these are legal or valid.)

Under the Department Order No. 010-2017 or implementing rules and regulations of Republic Act of 10928, Philippines passport is valid for 10 years for those Filipinos aged 18 years and above.

Filipinos under 18 years old will be issued with five-year valid passports. —with Consuelo Marquez/KBK, GMA News

Source: GMA News