DFA to open additional off-site registration offices for passport applications

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 5, 2021   •   309

MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) will open additional off-site registration offices for passport applications.

Foreign Undersecretary Brigido Dulay said that the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic has caused delays in the department’s passport application process. Adherence to IATF protocols regarding physical distancing, has limited the number of applicants they can accommodate in offices.

Hindi tayo makapagpapasok at makapagproseso ng mas maraming tao sa aming mga gusali sapagkat tayo ay dapat tumugon at sumunod sa IATF [Inter-Agency Task Force] protocols ukol sa physical distancing (We cannot allow entry and process a lot of applications in offices because we are adhering to the IATF protocols regarding social distancing),” he said.

Only 1.7 million passports were released last year due to the pandemic compared with 4 million recorded in 2019.

To recover from the backlogs, the DFA will open temporary off-site passport services in San Pedro, Laguna; Cebu City, Davao City, and Lipa City.

Dulay said that the DFA is set to open 17 off-site offices by the end of the year. He also added that the department will deploy additional staff to handle the issue of misinformation concerning the delivery address of passport applicants. AAC (with reports from Dante Amento)

Philippines tells China to ‘back off’ after incident in Ayungin Shoal

Maris Federez   •   November 18, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — “The acts of the Chinese Coast Guard vessels are illegal. China has no law enforcement rights in and around these areas. They must take heed and back off.”

Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Teodoro Locsin issued this statement reflecting his distaste in the recent standoff between the Philippine vessels and the Chinese Coast Guard in Ayungin Shoal on Tuesday, November 16.

In a Twitter post, the DFA said three Chinese Coast Guard vessels blocked and water cannoned two Philippine supply boats en route to transport food supplies to Philippine military personnel in Ayungin Shoal (Second Thomas Shoal).

No one was hurt in the encounter but the Philippine troops had to abort their resupply mission.

“I have conveyed in the strongest terms to H.E. Huang Xilian, Ambassador of China and to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing our outrage, condemnation, and protest of the incident,” Secretary Locsin said.

“I reminded China that a public vessel is covered by the Philippines-United States Mutual Defense Treaty,” he added.

The DFA chief maintained that “Ayungin Shoal is part of the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG), which is an integral part of the Philippines, as well as  the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, and over which the Philippines has sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction.”

Locsin added that the Chinese Coast Guard’s failure to exercise self-restraint would eventually harm the special relationship between the two countries which President Rodrigo R. Duterte and President Xi Jin Ping have worked hard to nurture.

The Philippines, Locsin said, will continue to provide supplies to its military personnel in Ayungin Shoal (Second Thomas Shoal).

“We do not ask permission to do what we need to do in our territory,” Locsin reiterated. —/mbmf


PH gov’t urged to open more off-site passport services

Robie de Guzman   •   November 4, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Joel Villanueva has called on the government to open more off-site passport processing centers in malls outside of Metro Manila as the easing of COVID-19 cases prompts Filipinos to hunt for overseas jobs again.

In a statement, Villanueva said the move of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to open six Temporary Off-Site Passport Services (DFA-TOPS) in NCR last month was “a great solution that should be replicated and scaled up” nationwide.

Passport processing, he added, is “an important employment assistance not only to OFWs but to first-time job seekers.”

“Well, in a sense, you can view it as job generation activity,” Villanueva said.

As travel restrictions get rolled back globally, the senator is optimistic that this will open up economies that will take back furloughed workers, many of whom were Filipinos.

Citing a report from the DFA, Villanueva noted that some 420,205 OFWs affected by the COVID economic slowdown were repatriated with government help since the pandemic shut down businesses.

“For many of them, the forced vacation is over. And some of them may have expired passports. The rush to renew this indispensable travel document is what is causing the logjam in passport applications,” Villanueva said.

In anticipation of the global economic reopening next year, he said the government should make sure that OFWs have the necessary documents with them.

He said even non-OFWs will benefit from more passport processing centers.

“Kasama rin po dito yung mga lolo at lola na sabik ng makabisita sa kanilang mga anak at apo na naninirahan sa ibang bayan,” he said.

The DFA forecasted 4.2 million pieces of passports processed in 2020 but ended the year with 1.73 million passports issued.

It also targeted 4,556,325 pieces of passport issued this year but as of July 2021, only 1,281,836 had been released.

“Dahil sa COVID surges, marami pong kababayan natin ang hindi nakapag-apply ng passport. Dagdag pa ang domestic travel restrictions plus health protocols. Kaya pag bumaba po ang mga cases ng COVID, asahang tataas ng applications for passports,” he said.

Villanueva is one of the authors of Republic Act 10928, which extends to 10 years the validity of Philippine passports.

Provisions guaranteeing the ease of securing passports and other work documents are also highlighted in his bill that seeks the creation of the Department of Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos.

DFA lowers alert level in Iraq as security situation improves

Robie de Guzman   •   November 2, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Tuesday announced it has lowered the alert level for the whole of Iraq amid improving security situation in the said country.

In a statement, the DFA said the alert level for Iraq has been downgraded from Alert Level 4 to Alert Level 3 due to some improvements in the security situation in the country and as requested by the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Iraq.

Alert Level 4 means mandatory repatriation while Alert Level 3 means voluntary repatriation.

“Following this development and upon the recommendation of the DFA, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) Governing Board has issued Governing Board Resolution (GBR) No. 9 series of 2021, exempting returning OFWs to Iraq from the deployment ban, subject to specific conditions listed in the said resolution,” the DFA said.

The department reminded Filipinos in Iraq to continue to exercise caution, restrict movements only to those that are necessary, and keep their communication lines open with the Philippine Embassy in Baghdad.

The embassy may be reached through +9647506561740, +9647516167838, and +9647508105240, or baghdad.pe@dfa.gov.ph.



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