Extending the validity of Philippine Passport : ‘A Simple Solution That Will Benefit 30 Million Filipinos’
Sponsorship Speech by Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph G. Recto
SB 1365: Extending the Validity of the Philippine Passport
This bill is pretty straightforward: It extends the period of validity of the Philippine passport from five to ten years.
But once it becomes a law, its benefits are far-reaching.
By simply lengthening the expiry date of the passport, Filipinos will be spared the hassle and the hardship of renewing their passports every 60 months.
This is unarguably one anti-red tape measure which should have been done a long time ago.
The thing is, while technology has made our passports hard to counterfeit, it has not made it easy to secure.
Not far from here, queues of applicants coil around a building, rain or shine, to apply for that document that would allow them to travel.
It is a scene replayed in many parts of the country. President Digong recalled the many times he was moonlighting as a taxi driver when he would see applicants queue overnight and sleep on the cold pavement of a mall in Davao City where passports were being issued.
The call for passports with longer validity is not something new. It was not hard to discover as if it were a distant meteorite. It is a simple fix that doesn’t involve rocket science.
From this chamber alone, many of us have been pleading for more than a decade for a Philippine passport that is valid for more than five years.
Unfortunately, while chips have already been embedded into our passports during that time, common sense had a hard time penetrating the heads of those to whom we had addressed our appeals.
So finally, of all the passport-related apps ever invented, the most needed, which is a longer legal shelf life, is now provided in this bill.
And with it, the relief it hopefully brings, to be felt, for example, by an OFW in Europe who, to have his passport renewed, needs to ride a train to another country because that is where the nearest consulate is.
Or the seaman who, instead of spending his vacation with his loved ones, has to spend days to renew what is literally his family’s passport to a good life. Or the retired lola who needs it for her annual “apo-stolic” missions to her children who now live abroad.
Or the millennial backpacker who survives on instant noodles just so she can bag piso-sale tickets and who has been echoing the plaints of many Pinoy wanderers: “kung hindi pwede ang visa-free travel sa maraming bansa, habaan na lang ang bisa ng passport.”
Let us, however, issue this warning to those who may want to profit out of 10-year passports by jacking up their cost.
Bawal po ‘yan. The established rule in setting fees for government-issued documents is that whatever charges imposed should merely recover the cost in processing and producing them.
In short, passport fees to be retained by the DFA must be just enough to recoup expenses in rendering this public service.
That is why if you will examine the price structure of one ordinary Philippine passport expressly processed, of the P1,200, only P250 goes to the DFA.
While on paper, the DFA’s passport income of P4.1 billion in 2015 appears to be huge, it merely reflects the collected amount for eventual remittance to the passport producers, and not the retained income, which is only a miniscule portion of total collections.
Mr. President, my dear colleagues:
When Rizal left the Philippines for the first time on May 3, 1882, for Spain, he was carrying a passport under the name Jose Mercado. It was obtained for him by his uncle Antonio Rivera.
Fortuitously for him, locomotives have begun crisscrossing Europe rendering border controls useless, so like a modern-day Schengen visa holder, he was able to travel to many countries, and hooked a girl in each, seamlessly.
This bill will not make every Pinoy a Rizal when it comes to the ease of getting a passport, as he got his through an agent, and with an alias, to boot.
Nowadays, nonappearance is a big no-no, and using an alias constitutes passport fraud.
But at least with this bill, the frequency of getting a passport, and encountering the attendant hassles, will be cut.
With passport issuances reaching three million a year, at least 30 million will benefit from this bill in the next 10 years.
Mr. President, I congratulate the chairman of the reporting committee, Senator Alan Cayetano, and thank him for consolidating my Senate Bill 795 with this bill as I call for its speedy approval.