MANILA Four additional vans for Passport on Wheels arrived at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Friday as the agency moves to address the demand for passports.
DFA Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said this is to bring passport and other consular services to distant cities and towns in the country.
"The difficulty in getting an appointment is a supply and demand problem," he told reporters at the DFA. "What we want to do is double our capacity."
Aside from bringing the total vans to eight, the DFA is planning to establish more consular offices nationwide.
The vans, which arrived May 4, shall be rolled out starting May 18 after testing of equipment and training of personnel.
"DFA will continue to exert all efforts to make passport services accessible to our people wherever they are in the country," Cayetano said.
The Passport on Wheels, launched last January 15 this year, has been to 82 cities, municipalities, offices and organizations.
It has rolled out not only to the northern provinces of Luzon like Ilocos Norte, but even down south to Mindanao with services provided to the residents of Davao City.
According to the DFA-Office of Public Diplomacy, Passport on Wheels has served a total of 94,422 passport applicants as of April 30 since its launch.
Each van is equipped with five Data Capturing Machines that can process 500 applications.
With the additional units, the number of passport applications that can be accommodated daily is expected to grow by 4,000.
By June, DFA is looking to add two megavans which can hold more Data Capturing Machines and further increase DFA's capacity to process passport applications.
Aside from Passport on Wheels, the DFA is implementing various programs to improve its passport services.
It is scheduled to open a consular office in Ilocos Norte on May 8 and another in Isabela on May 15.
These two are in addition to the recently opened Consular Office in Tacloban. Another six Consular Offices, meanwhile, will be opened in different regions in the coming months.
The programs also include rendition of Saturday work in DFA Aseana, increasing daily capacity of all consular offices, expanding the courtesy lanes to sectors who need them most, and a crackdown on fixers and scammers. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency