THE Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) announced on Tuesday it will increase its passport-processing capacity to address the demand for Philippine passports.
During a hearing at the House of Representatives on slow passport processing, Foreign Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano said the demand for passports is continuously increasing after its validity was extended from five years to 10 years.
“When we took over, the demand shot up. So, in 2016 alone to 2017, the demand for passports surged to 600,000. The 10-year passport really became a hit,” said the DFA chief during the hearing by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability.
While APO Production Unit Inc., the company producing the passport, was able to print up to 28,000 every day, the consular offices were only able to process around 14,000 daily, he added.
With this, Cayetano said, the DFA is eyeing to establish more offices to increase its daily processing capacity to 31,000 daily.
“There’s a wide gap between the demand for passports and the DFA’s capacity to receive and process applications,” he added. “The demand far outweighs the capacity.”
Meanwhile, Cayetano said, the DFA is now looking for a new technology that will allow holders to renew their passports online.
He added the foreign affairs department is eyeing to launch the online renewal system next year.
He added the rise in demand for passports can be attributed to the steady growth of the middle class, boom in international travel, increased availability of airports outside Metro Manila and increase in the number of international flight options linking regional hubs such as Clark, Cebu and Davao to international destinations.