Senator Christopher “Bong” Go expressed his gratitude for the unanimous approval of Senate Bill No. 2001, also known as the New Philippine Passport Act. The bill was approved during the third and final reading on Monday, September 25, with 20 affirmative votes, zero negative vote, and zero abstention.
Go, who co-authored and co-sponsored the bill, also congratulated the principal sponsor, Senator Imee Marcos, for her role in prioritizing the measure.
“Mr. President, I just want to thank this august chamber for the approval of Senate Bill 2001 or the New Philippine Passport Act,” said Go.
“This will further improve passport application process and its accessibility to the general public, and to enhance the security and integrity of the Philippine passport,” he added.
The senator emphasized the importance of modernizing the Philippine passport system to keep up with the times and in line with current technological advancements.
“With the advancements in technology, it is just right and proper that we have a more simplified, accessible, and secure Philippine passport. After all, the right to travel is recognized in our Constitution,” Go stated.
The proposed legislation, a priority for President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., enables both senior citizens and migrant workers to renew their passports online, thereby removing the necessity to physically go to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) office.
The bill provides that the DFA is mandated to establish and maintain an online application portal and Electronic One-Stop-Shop which must be readily accessible on its official website, cited by Go.
Moreover, Filipinos who find themselves without a passport can apply for emergency passports, which will be valid for a one-year period. They may also seek an emergency travel document certificate if passports are lost overseas before returning to the Philippines.
The proposed legislation also includes provisions for creating a watchlist of people who have either been refused a passport or have had their existing passports revoked.
“Another feature of the bill is the reduction of 20% of the passport application fees for senior citizens and persons with disability,” Go mentioned.
Moreover, the bill takes into account the special needs of senior citizens, persons with disabilities (PWDs), pregnant women, and Overseas Filipino Workers. It mandates accommodations to expedite the application and renewal of passports for these sectors through the creation of special lanes.
“Through this measure, Mr. President, we hope we could enhance and protect the unimpaired exercise of our right to travel,” Go concluded, expressing optimism about the positive impact of the proposed law.
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