Getting a passport-A A +A
Thursday, September 12, 2013
IF THE number of people who congregate daily at the passport-issuing office of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) at its Mandaue branch is gauge, one could say that something threatening must be confronting the country and hordes of Filipinos are trying to leave it to save themselves.
The passport office at the fourth floor of the Pacific Mall building near the Mandaue City-Consolacion town boundary was almost filled to the rafters with applicants.
The crowd was quite suffocating, if you ask me. I was accompanying my daughter, Maria Fe and her aunt, my youngest sister, Lorna, to the DFA office, to get their new passport.
I did not realize that in going there the other day, I would find a long story to write about. Since the time I first went abroad, I somehow became footloose and became familiar with the passport offices that were opened in Cebu.
However, there were not many applicants then. Today, I think this regional office is
the biggest income-earner of the DFA. The passport offices were small then, located in the vicinity of the Capitol. In those days, the procedure was quite easy for most of the applicants. One could get a passport in 24 hours when one was in a hurry to depart.
The local DFA office could process the passport and issue it in a week, if the applicants were not prepared with their supporting documents. Those who have to leave within two or three days can do it then. But it is not so anymore.
I think, for security reasons, the government has changed the procedure. All passports now will have to be done by the Central Bank printing office. And it takes 14 days to one month for applicants to receive their passports now.
But I heard that there are certain cases when some applicants are able to get their applications approved in just a week to ten days, although I think these are extra special cases. On the other hand, as in the case of my eldest daughter, Mafette, one can be most unlucky, too.
More than a week ago, she flew to Manila to obtain a visa for Italy where she was to join her husband, Eric, a crew on a foreign ship. However, when she was about to be granted the visa, the inside pages of her Central Bank-issued passport fell off, as if it was tampered with, since the seam was detached. She was not granted the visa.
That was why I had to accompany her to the DFA office to help her explain the problem.
We were lucky that the new lady director of the office--I learned she was hardly a week on the job-- was helpful enough to accommodate her. But she still could not get her Italian visa in time to catch up with schedule simply because of the poor quality
of the passport material.
It’s funny, but my daughter said that a travel agency told her she was not the only one who suffered the same unlucky experience. Well, perhaps my daughter was fated not to be able to go on a belated honeymoon with her husband.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 12, 2013.