Senator Sonny Angara today urged the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to fast-track the issuance of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) that would implement R.A. 10928, or the Amendments to the Philippine Passport Law that extends the validity of Philippine passports from five to 10 years.
"I am calling on my good friend, Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, to place a 'Do not delay sign' on the rollout of the 10-year Philippine passport," the senator said, pointing out the crucial role of the foreign affairs department in drafting the law's IRR.
The new passport law, which was co-authored by Angara in the Upper Chamber, effectively amends R.A. 8239 or the Philippine Passport Act of 1996.
"The earlier it can be introduced, the better for millions of overseas Filipino workers and those who travel abroad on budget tours," he said.
According to the lawmaker, an average of 250,000 Filipinos apply every month for new passports or renew theirs, based on a recent DFA report that they process around 3 million applications a year.
"If the passport with a longer validity can be introduced six months ahead of schedule, then that would be 1.5 million Filipinos benefitting early because of the new law," Angara said, while stressing:
"Kung ma-delay naman ng six months, eh di halos 1.5 million na naman ang maaapektuhan."
The senator suggested that to expedite things, the DFA could use for now the current 44-page passport.
"Saka na yung maraming pahina. Hindi naman lahat ng mga kababayan natin ay nangangailangan ng pasaporteng makapal," the vice chair of the Senate finance committee said.
Angara issued this reminder "out of the fear that red tape will delay the release of the 10-year valid passport if the DFA will decide to study first if they will have to introduce a new series that would include more pages."
"But knowing Secretary Alan, who by the way championed the measure when he was the Senate foreign relations committee chair, he wouldn't want the implementation to be delayed too," he stressed.
Regular passports issued under this new law will be valid for 10 years except for individuals under 18 years of age, who will still have passports with five-year validity.
The new law also states that the issuing authority may limit the validity to less than 10 years whenever national economic interest or political stability is at stake.
Source: Senate of the Philippines