DFA Takes Steps to Ease Passport Backlog
PARAÑAQUE CITY 24 September 2021 – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) highlighted the measures it has implemented and will implement to address the current backlog in passport services.
Among these measures is the opening of additional Temporary Offsite Passport Services (TOPS) facilities in the provinces in order to increase the passport appointment slots available to the public. New TOPS sites will open in San Pedro, Laguna, Cebu City, Davao City, and Lipa City in October, with two additional sites in the National Capital Region also in the pipeline. The DFA hopes to be able to open 17 TOPS sites before the end of the year and will continue the program in 2022 if it receives funding from Congress, which is currently deliberating on the Government’s 2022 budget.
The DFA has also relocated its passport releasing services to Double Dragon Plaza in Pasay City to make the process more convenient to the applicants. Passports that are to be picked up by the applicants are released at the site from Mondays to Fridays (except public holidays), from 8:00 AM to 1:00 PM. Included in these are over three thousand passports that the previous courier service provider could not deliver because of erroneous addresses or the lack of authorization letters from applicants who were not present at the delivery address.
The DFA maintained that passport applications normally adhere to the turn-around time of twelve days from the date of biometrics capture. Delayed applications were caused by applicants’ errors in the names or dates of birth in the online application form, which required manual correction. Over 26,000 such applications were received by the Department since July, which they have been able to trim down to 17,000 despite a spike in COVID-19 cases among its ranks. The DFA urged the public to ensure accuracy with their personal information and said that applicants with errors on their forms are now required to return for another appointment.
For overseas Filipino workers (OFW) urgently requiring passport issuance, the DFA said they are able to access its Courtesy Lane facility by requesting appointments through e-mail. From September alone, the Passport Courtesy Lane received 4,892 e-mail requests and was able to act on 4,097 of them. The Department also said between 01 August and 23 September, it received 80,470 other emails from the public and responded to 58,246 of them despite having limited personnel.
The DFA assured the public that passport appointment slots for October to December 2021 have not yet been loaded while it makes adjustments to the system to secure it against enterprising groups or individuals who sell passport slots on social media. Passport appointment slots are free and may only be booked online using the DFA’s official website. END