Delay in the release of passports

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014


I HAVE received numerous complaints about the delay in the releasing of passports by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) 7. One of the complainants is our colleague in the media. Anyway, here’s an email from a disgusted passport applicant who does not want to be named:

“Gusto nako nga tukion nimo kining palpak nga sistema sa DFA, gikan sa paglukat hangtud sa pag-release sa passport.

“Pagkuha pa lang sa passport, ang mga tawo maglinya na sa mga alas-2 sa kaadlawon aron makakuha lang og sayo-sayo ang ilang priority number. Maayo lang kun taga-Cebu ra ning uban. Aduna pu’y taga laing probinsya.

“Ako nakaagi na anang nilinya ko’g 3:30 a.m. Ang akong numero sa linya kay 267 then pagka-7 a.m. akong final priority number kay 291 dala na sa minors ug senior citizens.

“Pagkahuman sa pipila ka oras, nahuman gyud ko (mga 5:30 p.m.). Usik kaayo sa oras.

Ang uban mo-absent lang sa trabaho.

“Mibayad ko’g express nga 15 days ug nagdahum ko’g makuha nako atong May 8, 2014. Sa maong petsa, mibalik ko sa Pacific Mall sa Mandaue City. Apan dako ang akong pagkadismaya kay delayed ang releasing sa passport. Matod nila tungod daw sa kadaghan sa ni-apply.

“Ang problema pa gyud, naa ra sa DFA Manila ang printing ug assembly sa e-passports.

Ang pangutana: Nganong dili man makahimo ang DFA Cebu sa pag-imprinta ug assemble sa e-passports?

“Kun ma-aberiya ang sistema sa DFA Manila, madamay pud ang DFA Cebu. Unya makaluluoy ani ang ubang taga laing isla kay niplite ug nagsakripsiyo sila para makalukat lang sa ilang passport. Mabaw ra kaayo ang ilang rason nga tungod sa kadaghan sa mga mi-apply.

“Ang passport usa sa pinaka-importante nga dokumento sa katawhan maong tarungon unta sa taga-DFA ang ilang service.”

Malou Mozo, a Cebu-based business correspondent of the Manila Bulletin, also complained about the delay in the release of her passport. She applied last April through the travel agency owned by Jenny Franco, an active member and one of the organizers of the 888 Media Forum.

According to Mozo, DFA officials promised her that her passport would be released on May 8. But when she inquired the other day, she was told that it would be released next week. She was upset because she is scheduled to leave for Singapore on May 18.

When sought for comment, DFA Regional Director Anika Apalisok-Fernandez, the lovely daughter of Cebu Daily News columnist and my idol in broadcast, Inday Malou Guanzon-Apalisok, said that what caused the delay was the system in their central office. She said her office only processes the applications and everything is sent to the Central Bank, which prints the passports electronically.

DFA Cebu caters to all applicants in the Visayas, which is composed of regions 6, 7 and 8. DFA has an office in Bacolod City, but applicants in region 6 would opt to apply here. The Tacloban City office in region 6 was closed after super typhoon Yolanda devastated the area.

Fernandez said that the DFA is still using a 5-year-old system that can no longer cope with voluminous applications. She added that DFA processes an estimated 20,000 applications worldwide daily. But sometimes they can also deliver the passport on time, say 15 days after the application is filed, if there is no upsurge in applications.

With the number of Filipinos who want to go abroad either for work or leisure, DFA should give priority to this problem. Why can't it upgrade its system? What's the problem? DFA’s budget? We have been losing billions of pesos to corruption and yet we cannot give priority to a more pressing concern.

(bobby.nalzaro@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 14, 2014.

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