September 05, 2017

DFA removes travel agencies’ reserved slots for passport appointments

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  • The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) announced on Monday that it has opened 1,200 passport appointment slots following their removal from travel agencies last month.

    IMAGE Wikipedia

    Travel agencies are now no longer entitled to fixed appointment slots at DFA for their clients’ passport application and renewal after the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) removed their fixed appointment slots. The slots will now be given to regular applicants.

    According to Ricarte B. Abejuella III, acting director of the Passport Division of the Office of Consular Affairs, clients of travel agencies should undergo when applying for or renewing a passport. “We want to give back the appointment slots to the Filipino public,” Abejuella said.

    PERSONAL APPOINTMENT ONLY. The DFA has effectively taken away the need for anyone looking to secure a passport to visit a travel agency./IMAGE Wikipedia

    DFA employees would also have to make adjustments after their privilege to use the courtesy lane was restricted beginning August 1st. Under the new system, only the immediate family members of DFA employees — parents, spouse, children, siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, and parents-in-law have access to DFA’s express lane.

    The significant reduction in the daily courtesy lane slots reserved for the DFA employees has resulted in a further increase in daily slots for applicants who should be entitled to the courtesy lane.

    “We all need to make changes for everybody’s sake. 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 women, solo parents, children 7 years old and below, and overseas Filipino workers,” Abujuela emphasized.

    With the newly freed up courtesy lane slots, Abejuela said the DFA was also able to expand the definition of OFWs who can avail of the courtesy lane. The privilege can now be enjoyed by OFWs who are working abroad for the first time.

    “Our policy now is that no OFW should be left without a job just because he couldn’t get a passport,” he added.

    Aside from these reforms, the DFA also increased the quotas of consular offices and cleared bogus appointments in their system, opening an additional 94,350 slots from July to August and 86,889 in September.

    The DFA also successfully brought down to zero the backlog of 33,000 applications pending investigation under the Automated Fingerprint Identification System.

    Written by Pia Ramirez, Philippine Primer Intern
    Source: DFA, GMA News Online

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