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

Robie de Guzman   •   November 4, 2021   •   275

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 temporarily closes some passport service sites amid rising COVID cases

Robie de Guzman   •   January 10, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Monday announced it will be temporarily closing some of its consular offices amid increasing COVID-19 cases in the country.

In an advisory, the DFA said its Office of Consular Affairs (OCA), Consular Offices (COs) and Temporary Off-Site Passport Services (TOPS) sites will temporarily suspend operations from January 10 to 20, 2022 due to the steep rise in COVID-19 cases among their personnel.

During the temporary suspension of operations, no passport or Apostille applications will be processed or released, the DFA said.

Operations shall resume on January 21, 2022.

Kindly direct any inquiries to the Consular Office where the application was filed, the department said.

The following offices will be closed from January 10 to 20:

  • CO La Union (January 10-14)
  • CO NCR East
  • CO NCR North
  • TOPS Robinsons Novaliches

The following offices will be closed from January 12 to 20, 2022:

  • DFA Office of Consular Affairs in Aseana Business Park, Paranaque City
  • CO NCR Central
  • CO NCR Northeast
  • CO NCR South
  • CO NCR West
  • CO Antipolo
  • CO Angeles
  • CO Baguio
  • CO Dasmarinas
  • CO Iloilo
  • CO Lucena
  • CO Malolos
  • CO San Pablo
  • TOPS Newport Mall
  • TOPS Robinsons Las Pinas
  • TOPS Robinsons San Pedro Laguna
  • TOPS SM Manila
  • TOPS SM MOA
  • TOPS SM North EDSA

Affected Passport and Apostille applicants originally scheduled from January 12 to 20, 2022 at DFA Aseana are advised to refer to their new schedule of appointments posted at the DFA website.

“Please expect an email with further details about your appointment which will be sent to the email address you used when you booked your application,” the DFA said.

DFA restricts entry of unvaccinated passport applicants in Alert Level 3 malls

Robie de Guzman   •   January 6, 2022

MANILA, Philippines — Persons unvaccinated against COVID-19 will not be allowed to enter Consular Offices and Temporary Off-Site Passport Services in malls in areas under Alert Level 3, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Wednesday announced.

In a statement, the DFA said the prohibition, which also covers minors, was due to the restrictions imposed by malls hosting the Consular offices and off-site passport services.

“Consular Offices are unable to override the host malls’ security and health protocols,” the department said.

The department advised unvaccinated applicants, including minors, to first check the regulations of the relevant malls before proceeding to their appointments.

Applicants may also reschedule their appointments after having been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or after malls and local government units have lifted the entry restriction on unvaccinated persons.

“The department requests the public’s cooperation as it strives to deliver passport services to the public while ensuring the people’s safety and health amidst the ongoing pandemic,” the DFA said.

Metro Manila and nearby areas of Cavite, Bulacan, and Rizal are under COVID-19 Alert Level 3 until January 15 amid rising cases of COVID-19.

Passport applicants in Odette-hit areas to be contacted for appointment rescheduling — DFA

Robie de Guzman   •   December 22, 2021

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Office of Consular Affairs (OCA) has advised applicants affected by the closure of consular offices (CO) due to the onslaught of Typhoon Odette last December 17 that they will be contacted for the rescheduling of their appointments.

In a statement, the DFA-OCA said it will reach out to applicants as soon as it has established contact with the consular offices and the situation stabilizes in Odette-ravaged areas.

The department said the consular office and Temporary Off-Site Passport Services (TOPS) in Cebu will remain closed until December 24 as network connection and sufficient power to continue operations are yet to be restored.

Meanwhile, the following COs in Visayas and Mindanao have resumed operations but shall cater to those who are scheduled from December 21, 2021.

  • CO Bacolod
  • CO Butuan
  • CO Cagayan De Oro
  • CO Clarin
  • CO Davao
  • CO Dumaguete
  • CO General Santos
  • CO Iloilo
  • CO Puerto Princesa
  • CO Tacloban
  • CO Tagum
  • CO Zamboanga

“Applicants scheduled on December 17, 2021, are advised to wait for their new schedule before proceeding to the CO,” the agency said.

It also urged applicants to prioritize their safety and closely adhere to local government safety and precautionary measures set in place following the typhoon’s aftermath.

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