Once in a while
FOREIGN Sec. Alan Peter S. Cayetano continues to bring unprecedented change to the Department of Foreign Affairs and rise up to the challenge of meeting the consular needs of thousands of Filipinos.
The pioneering Passport on Wheels (POW) program has gone full throttle and is now serving the public in offices, hospitals, subdivisions and schools nationwide.
Since its January launching, the POW program has served more than 138,000 satisfied applicants.
Cayetano has revealed with pride that the number of POW applicants in the last six months is equivalent to the output of four medium-sized consular offices.
“Through the Passport on Wheels, we are not only able to bring our consular services closer to the people but, more importantly, serve more people, accommodating more than 138,000 applicants since January,” said the hard-working secretary.
The POW teams have visited cities and municipalities as well as government offices such as Malacañang, Senate, House of Representatives, Department of Health, National Commission on Muslim Filipinos, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, and Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority..
Among those who have benefited from the speedy passport processing scheme are employees of private entities such as GMA Network, Aboitiz and Nestle have also benefited from the POW program. The DFA also went to hospitals like St. Luke’s Medical Center and Tricity Medical Center, and partnered with homeowners’ association such as Loyola Grand Villas in Quezon City, to hold consular missions.
Last June 30, the POW went to Xavier School and served 1,930 applicants.
The letter must specify the estimated number of applicants (minimum of 500 and maximum of 2,000), the name and contact details of the requesting party’s designated Passport Coordinator, and the preferred schedule.
Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs Frank Cimafranca said that the demand for passports has risen dramatically since 2016 primarily due to the expanding middle class, the availability of affordable plane fares, and the lure of more lucrative employment opportunities overseas.
Apart from the POW program, Assistant Secretary Cimafranca cited other initiatives that have been undertaken by the DFA to meet the public’s demand for passports. The DFA recently opened new consular offices in Tacloban City, San Nicolas in Ilocos Norte, and Santiago City in Isabela, while DFA Aseana in Parañaque City opened its passport services on Saturdays earlier this year.
The DFA has also increased the daily capacity of all consular offices, expanded the courtesy lanes to sectors who need them most, and arrested and prosecuted fixers and scammers.