Passport processing back to normal: DFA

THE Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in Central Luzon said Tuesday that the processing of passport applications and renewals at its centers in Robinsons Starmills in the City of San Fernando and MarQuee Mall in Angeles City is back to normal after it suffered from backlogs recently.

DFA Regional Director Art Romua said the backlogs encountered by the agency rooted from the breakdown of printing machines at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas where passports are printed and embedded with security codes and features.

“We had a backlog of about 1,000 applications last month until the early part of January this year. The almost a month backlog was a result of printing machines at the Central bogging down because of probably the heavy load encountered during the peak season of Christmas and New Year when a lot of people travel and go on vacation,” said Romua.

BACK TO NORMAL. Applicants wait patiently to have their passports processed as Regional Director Art Romua disclosed that the backlogs have been addressed at the DFA offices. (Jovi T. De Leon)
“We even had to close down our Express Lane -- where processing takes just about six to ten days -- because of the delay so we would avoid inconveniencing our clients. Others in a rush were referred to our Manila consulate and given priority. Now I just got word that new printing machines are in place and hopefully, our operations and processing will normalize this week, starting today. We also have re-opened our Express Lane to serve applicants better,” he added.

Another factor that contributed to the sudden rise of applications, Romua said, is the increase of promotional flights for international destinations at the Clark International Airport. Both locals and foreigners seeking passports or applying for renewals of the e-passports have been queuing up at the DFA regional office.

The DFA in Robinsons Starmills processes about 700 applications per day, while the office in MarQuee Mall processes some 250 to 300 passports per day, Romua said.

“Everything will normalize this week and we are optimistic that we could return to our usual processing of passport applications which is from 10 to 20 days from the time of application to releasing of the passport. Applicants need not worry because we are on top of the situation and doing everything to avoid any further delays or backlogs,” Romua added.
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