Passport applicants irked by DFA-10 policy

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Friday, March 14, 2014


PASSPORT applicants from different parts of Mindanao have complained of the policies in obtaining and in the renewal of passport at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA)-Northern Mindanao office in Cagayan de Oro City.

“We got here yesterday (Thursday) around 9 a.m., and we were told that there were no more forms left. So we had to stay for the night and came back at 5 a.m., but to my surprise, people were already in line as early as 3:00 in the morning,” Estrella Bendanilo, 62, from Pagadian City, told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro Friday.

A group of 10 students from Marawi State University (MSU) was also in the long queue waiting for their turn, sitting on the edge of the street corner.

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“We’ve been here in line since 3:00 in the morning. We are all here for our passport as it is our requirement for our tourism practicum for Malaysia this coming May. We come from different parts of Mindanao, among us are from Surigao del Sur in Caraga region, Lanao del Sur and Norte, Ozamiz City and Zamboanga Sibugay. I think I’m the farthest since I come from the town of Simunol in Tawi-tawi, said 19 years old Dianara Shariff.

Eliver Liwanag, 44, from Ozamiz City, expressed his disbelief in the long process they all have to go through.

“The DFA should have a proper system to address this situation. People are not informed of this situation; we never expected this kind of situation. Others here come from far places and don’t even have money to spend for a place to stay and extra money for additional expenses of food and water,” said Liwanag.

Liwanag explained that he came to the DFA to renew his passport and could not believe how the process was being done.

“I arrived here yesterday (Thursday) at 10:00 in the morning and then they said that they have reached the quota and that we have to come back again. So we did not have a choice but to wait for the next day, we stayed here outside the entire evening,” he said.

Aman German, who came all the way from Oroquieta City together with her 11 and 13-year-old children, said she hopes for a better service.

“Me and my children are here to renew our passports. We got here at the DFA around 8:00 in the morning. They said we have to come back the next day. We were not prepared for such uncertainty so we ended up sleeping outside the door of the DFA. It was hard especially for the children since there were a lot of mosquitoes. My mother-in-law who renewed her license last year told us that the process is fast and smooth, we never expected this kind of situation,” said German.

Naive Manhot, secretary to the office in charge in the DFA, explained that the DFA regional office can only accommodate 300 applicants a day.

“We are limited to only 300 applicants a day excluding senior citizens, infants, person with disability and pregnant women, because of the new electronic passport processing (E-passport). The processing takes time because we need to capture the biometrics of the applicants and we only have four machines,” said Manhot.

Manhot added that their office never advised applicants to come and stand in line as early as 3:00 in the morning.

“We don’t advise this but sometimes, when they get here, we have already reached our quota for the day. We can accommodate them as long as the numbers of people haven’t reached 300,” she said.

One of the office security personnel who requested not to be named stated that on March 14, they only handed out 200 application forms because several of the employees were on leave.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on March 15, 2014.

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