Demand for passports surges anew

By: Donna Pazzibugan - Philippine Daily Inquirer | March 07,2022 - 09:50 AM
Philippine passports, FOR STORY: Demand for passports surges anew

Philippine passports (INQUIRER.NET FILE PHOTO)

MANILA, Philippines — Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Sunday fended off complaints by netizens over the continued lack of passport appointment slots from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

His fellow Twitter users showed him several social media sites offering passport appointment slots this month when DFA has not opened new slots in its online appointment system.

“Why is the availability of passport renewal schedules so scarce? So many offsite centers, [yet] no availability. Lots of FB (Facebook) groups offering schedules via ‘DFA portal.’ This demand is resulting in corruption,” a Twitter user told Locsin.

Locsin responded by tagging the official DFA Twitter account to “please look into this.”

Chiming in, Brigido Dulay, foreign undersecretary for consular affairs, informed Locsin on Twitter that his office has been asking Facebook to take down the illegal appointment pages and law enforcement agencies to “apprehend these cybercriminals.”

“But it’s a cat [and] mouse game in the virtual world,” claimed Dulay.

His claim was contradicted by a Twitter user who informed Locsin that anyone searching for “passport renewal” in Facebook “will be flooded” by sites offering “assistance” for available passport appointment slots in March.

When Locsin tweeted that senior citizens, or those 60 years old and above, who need passports can write DFA to ask to use the “courtesy lane,” a Twitter user pointed out that senior citizens were still told to get an online appointment schedule.

“Pointless to have a courtesy service if they have to go online. Please address,” Locsin replied, again tagging the DFA Twitter account.

Online passport appointment slots continued to be scarce more than a year into the pandemic.

By October last year, the backlog of passport applications ballooned to tens of thousands while the DFA failed to deliver tens of thousands more passports due to courier problems.

The DFA said it was addressing the backlog of applications and other issues with the booking of passport appointments, as well as the problem of undelivered passports.

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TAGS: Cebu Daily News, demand for passport, DFA, online appointment, Twitter

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