Foreign Affairs Secretary Allan Peter Cayetano said that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is testing a new system that will enable Filipinos to renew their passports online. The system will allow the processing of passport renewal applications through the Internet, thereby reducing the number of in-person appointments at consular offices all over the country.
Cayetano said that the technology works by comparing the photo in the passport with the passport holder’s selfie photo. If the photos match, the DFA will then mail the renewed passport to the applicant.
The DFA is still working out the details of the new scheme. The department plans to make the online passport renewal system available by 2019. However, only passports that were issued from August 2016 onwards will be processed by the online system, since earlier data were already obsolete or corrupted.
“When the data was turned over to us in 2014, aside from being obsolete, the other data was already corrupted. Once we have the biometrics, it’s no longer necessary to show up at our offices and we can do the renewals online,” Cayetano said.
DFA to Increase Passport Production Capacity
After many Filipinos complained about the lack of available slots for online passport appointments, the DFA started several programs to address the problem.
Last January, the DFA launched a mobile passport processing center named “Passport on Wheels” to cater to the needs of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). It also launched an online portal for first-time OFWs applying for passports. The online portal allows accredited recruitment agencies to secure passport appointment slots for new OFWs.
Cayetano added that the DFA is working to increase its capacity to produce passports. The agency plans to increase production from 19,030 passports per day to 30,030 per day.
“We’ve already told them that they have to add printers. I have a draft letter to them, I communicated this verbally, they should put a printing machine in either the Europe or the Middle East and the US (missions) because we have 9 million passport holders abroad. I’ve also asked them to put one printing machine in the DFA central office,” Cayetano said.
The DFA secretary also said that 6 Passport on Wheels vans will arrive in June to help process passports, while 17,000 daily passport appointment slots will be made available within the year with the planned opening of 8 new consular offices all over the country.
Source: ABS-CBN News