Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano yesterday formally launched the 10-year valid passport by releasing the first batch to applicants.
“This extended validity is seen to benefit the OFWs, particularly those who are assigned in areas far from an embassy or consulate where they can apply for a new one,” Cayetano said.
“The 10-year validity passport is also one way to address decongestion among the various consular offices,” he added.
Republic Act No. 10928 or the Act Extending the Validity of Philippine passports was signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte last August 2017.
Starting January 3, all approved applications of Filipinos 18-years old and above were issued with the 10-year valid passport, minors 18-years old below were only issued with five-year valid passport.
According to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), both booklets issued with 10-year and five-year validity will have no change in terms of fees, design and number of pages.
Meanwhile, Cayetano denied that a syndicate involving DFA personnel and travel agencies are behind the alleged selling of slots for passport appointments.
He said travel agencies are no longer allowed to offer appointment slots for passport applications.
Cayetano challenged those accusing the DFA to “give us the evidence.”
Filipinos -- including those working abroad -- who are renewing their passports have been complaining because of difficulties in getting appointment through the agency’s online facilities.
The DFA’s Facebook page has been flooded with complaints from people unable to get appointments earlier than March.
Cayetano said they are currently “fixing the system” to make passport application easier.