Having a passport with a longer validity period is something that many Filipinos, especially OFWs, want. But when the Department of Foreign Affairs started issuing passports valid for 10 years last week, getting them was something that many Filipinos were not so happy about. Why? Renewing passports or applying for a passport seemed to take an eternity.
While it’s easy to apply for a passport because it can be done online, the renewal schedule or application appointment with the DFA will be at least three months away from the time a passport applicant accomplished the application form via the Passport Appointment System in the agency’s website. And it took that long whether the applicant went to the DFA’s office at the Aseana Business Park in Pasay City or its satellite offices in shopping malls and in the provinces.
In 2016, the DFA issued 3.1 million passports. With up to 12,000 passport application daily, it was too much for the DFA’s 27 consular offices nationwide to handle. Thus, the long waiting time for passport application appointments and releasing.
Amid mounting complaints, the DFA quickly went to work and managed to cut down the waiting time for an appointment to six weeks. It found and cancelled 50,000 bogus appointments, added computers and staff, and removed the slots reserved for travel agencies to achieve this.
The latest DFA strategy is deploying its Passport on Wheels, a mobile passport service using a van that goes to different locations in the country. Each Passport on Wheels van processes 500 passport applications per day. On Monday, the Passport on Wheels served 1,500 applicants in Las Pinas City.
Coming up with such innovative public service is something worth emulating by other government agencies. The government should also be reaching out to the public and not just be waiting for them at the comforts of their offices.
The Passport on Wheels also adds to DFA’s efforts to make applications convenient by making it accessible to the people, just like what the DFA satellite offices in shopping malls did.
With other strategies like adding more consular offices, the DFA can cut down passport application delays in no time. We look forward to it. #