DFA orders add’l machines to fast track applications
Online payment system seen to discourage ‘no show’ applicants
Cebu-based residents and those from other parts of the Visayas can expect more appointment slots for passport applications and renewals to be opened “in a few weeks.”
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said five new data capture machines (DCMs) will be delivered to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Consular Office in Cebu, which is located at the fourth floor of Pacific Mall in Mandaue City.
“I'm trying to deliver five machines kaagad (immediately) so at least 50 percent yung pag- add ng (to be added to) capacity,” he told reporters during his visit to Cebu last week.
He said the additional machines were already ordered but had yet to be procured and programmed prior to delivery.
Cayetano said he visited the DFA consular office in Cebu last week and saw that the area is big enough to accommodate the machines.
There are 10 stations with DCMs at the consular office with each station designed to produce between 80 to 100 passports a day or a combined capacity of 800 to 1,000 passports daily.
But Cayetano said he found out that they are only able to produce a little over 500 passports a day.
Once the additional five DCMs arrive, Cayetano said the DFA consular office in Cebu can produce an additional 400 to 500 passports a day.
This would mean additional slots equal to the number of passports that can be accommodated in a day.
Cayetano said the DFA will also field several vans for their passport-on-wheels program all over the country.
Cayetano said they expect to roll out five vans in Luzon, five in the Visayas, and another five in Mindanao.
Each van will have five ma- chines that can process between 400 to 500 passports a day.
Of the eight additional consular offices that the DFA plans to open this year, only two have opened so far.
Once the other offices are opened, Cayetano said more slots can also be opened.
“We are doing that not only here but also abroad for our overseas workers. Hopefully, before the end of the year, you can feel that it’s much better,” he said.
The government’s decision to implement a 10-year validity of passports early this year and the availability of cheap flights resulted in a huge surge of ap- plications and renewals in DFA’s consular offices.
In response to this, Cayetano said they set up an e-payment system for passport applications and renewals to offset the “no-show” rate of applicants who secure online appointments but fail to show up at the consular office.
Cayetano said those securing appointments will have to pay online and will not be refunded if they failed to show up unless they present a valid reason.
Cayetano said the online payment system launches in Manila this month and elsewhere in the country in August.
Procurement of additional data machines is expected to reduce the long lines of applicants that wait for hours at the DFA consular office in a local mall in Cebu City.