MANILA Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano has vowed that improvements on the agency's passport system faced by overwhelming number of applications will be evident by mid-2018.
In a television interview, Cayetano said after he assumed duty as Department Foreign Affairs secretary, there had been no new offices put up or consular office employees promoted.
"As soon as I got in last May 2017, ang nakita ko, hindi tayo nagdagdag ng opisina, hindi tayo nagdadagdag ng tao, ni hindi napro-promote o nagiging regular yung maraming casuals (As I got in last May 2017, we haven't added new offices or hire Ms additional personnel. We haven't even promoted or regularized many of the casual employees)," he said.
"Last year alone, 600,000 more applied for passports and then the previous supplier, the previous printer that had allegedly corrupted data, so we have to have to get everyone now, he added.
Cayetano said the agency would increase capacity from 19,000 a day to 30,000 per day, which should move its appointment system from three months at present to two weeks or one month.
From there, he added they will coordinate with the Department of Budget and Management for the establishment of eight new offices and four posts abroad - the Philippine Consulate General in Houston, as well as in Frankfurt and Al-Khobar, and a Philippine Embassy in Copenhagen.
For the new offices, identified earlier by the DFA were the following sites:
Region I: San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte
Region II: Santiago, Isabela
Region III: Malolos or Meycauayan, Bulacan
Region 4-A: Calamba or San Pablo City, Laguna; DasmariAas City, Cavite, or Antipolo, Rizal
Region 10: Oroquieta City or Ozamis City, Misamis Occidental
Region 11: Tagum, Davao del Norte
Cayetano said they would ask for budget for 10 more passport-on-wheels vans after the initiative proved to be a success and served over 25,000 applicants since its launch on January 15.
Source: Philippine News Agency