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The long road for a Philippine passport

By: Nestle Semilla September 25,2017 - 01:40 AM

THE lines. Every working day, hundred of passport applicants line up in front of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA)-Cebu office inside the Pacific Mall in Mandaue City, just like on this day when this photo was taken on Sept. 22, 2017. (CDN PHOTO/JUNJIE MENDOZA)


The acting director of the Department of Foreign Affairs Central Visayas (DFA-7), Emmanuel Espineli, explains that the DFA-7 office in Mandaue City handles passport applications from all over the country as many residents from neighboring provinces and even Manila opt to process their documents in Cebu.

“Maong daghan kaayo diri kay nay mga taga-Manila o Mindanao ari manguha sa Cebu. Aside pa ana, we have highly urbanized cities diri sa Cebu daghan g’yud gusto mo-apply,” Espineli said.  (The reason why we have so many applicants here is because there are people from Manila and Mindanao who opt to get their passport in Cebu. Aside from that, we have highly urbanized cities here in Cebu and many residents really want to apply for passports.)

Espineli further explains that it is the head office of the DFA that controls the appointment process.

“Dili man kami ang nagboot kun dili ang Manila. Wala mi control ana,” Espineli said. (We are not the ones that decide on it but Manila. We have no control.)

Next to the DFA headquarters in Manila, the DFA-7 office in Cebu has the second most number of applicants followed by Pampanga.

Espineli admits that their office has been receiving a lot of complaints from applicants who are having difficulty in getting an appointment set.

While he says he could not blame the applicants for complaining, there really isn’t much he could do.

“Unsaon man tana nga mag-ilogay man tungod sa kadaghan,” Espineli said.  (What can we do. There are just so many people scrambling to get an appointment.)

No more long lines

The DFA appointment policy has eradicated the notorious long lines for passports that used to snake through the office’s halls.

Cebu Daily News visited the DFA-7 office on September 11 and noticed that clients were immediately entertained for as long as they had all their documents and requirements ready.

Located on the third floor of Pacific Mall in Mandaue City, a DFA-7 security guard would meet applicants at the door to ask for a print-out of their appointment schedule.

The applicants are then led to a processing area where they are told to submit the requirements which include a duly accomplished application form which may be downloaded from the DFA website, an NSO-issued birth certificate, the most recent expiring or expired passport (for those coming in to renew their passport), valid identification cards, and other supporting documents which may be necessary, depending on the status and personal circumstances of the applicant.

After all the documents are submitted, applicants then pay at the cashier and have their picture taken.

The entire process normally takes around 15-20 minutes.

According to Espineli, DFA-7 is able to process 500 applications daily. This still does not include about 100 applicants that walk into the DFA office daily, without appointment, but are allowed to apply. The privilege is given to senior citizens, children below seven years old, single parents and OFWs.

Passport application

According to the DFA website, renewal and new passport applications would take 15 to 30 days to process and would cost P950 to P1,200 depending on where the application was made.

DFA satellite offices in Metro Manila charge a regular processing fee of P950 for passport applications done in 10 to 30 working days and P1,200 for expedited processing that would take only five to seven days.

Expedited applications made in regional consular offices are charged P1,200 and would take 20 working days to process.

“We are more organized now and the lines are shorter. The process is also very fast because everything is computer generated,” Espineli said in Cebuano.

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TAGS: DFA, Mandaue City, online, Passport

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