Last July 25, 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte urged the congress in his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) to extend the Philippine passport validity from 5 years to 10 years. The Department of Foreign Affairs backs up President Duterte and they want it implemented as soon as possible. This is due to the fact that more and more Filipino workers suffer from the hassle of passport renewal and extension every year that contributes to the inefficiency of government services and unemployment problems of the country.
Under the Philippine Passport Act of 1996, a passport is “a document issued by the Philippine government to its citizens and requesting other governments to allow its citizens to pass safely and freely, and in case of need to give him/her all lawful aid and protection.”
As of yesterday, the House of Representatives has approved the House Bill 4767 on third and final reading which seeks to extend the validity of passports from 5 years to 10 years. It has been clarified that the proposed measure only seeks to lengthen the passport validity. With this approval, the next step will be for the Senate to review the bill where it will undergo another 3 readings. This is a great start for the proposed amendment of the Philippine Passport Act of 1996.
Many Filipinos will greatly benefit from a longer passport validity, especially the OFWs. Based from our kababayans’ experiences here in Canada, passport renewal can be really burdensome. There are only 3 Philippine Consulate General Offices in Canada, in Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto. Most of our kababayans wait for Consular Office outreach schedules which are not even regularly done. Aside from the location, another concern will be the costs. With longer passport validity, OFWs can just focus on providing for their families rather than spending so much for passport renewal.
It is noteworthy that one of the authors of HB 4767 is the ex-president and now 2nd District Representative of Pampanga, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Let us all hope that this Bill gets to see it through. As soon as the amendment is official, we can expect hassle-free renewals because there will be less queues and less repeated renewals in a longer period of time.