MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs plans to increase its passport processing capacity to meet the rising demand for the documents.
During Tuesday’s hearing of the House inquiry into the slow processing of passports, Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said demand “shot up” after the validity of the travel documents was extended to 10 years from the previous five.
“When we took over, the demand shot up. So in 2016 alone to 2017, (the demand for passports surged to) 600,000. Medyo nag-click talaga yung 10-year passport (The 10-year passport really became a hit),” Cayetano said.
Cayetano noted that APO Production Unit, Inc., the state-owned contractor that produces the passport, was able to print up to 28,000 passports daily but the consular offices were only able to process around 14,000 daily.
He said the agency aims to establish more offices to increase the daily processing capacity to 31,000 passports daily.
“We are now doing around 18,000 locally. With the new offices, we can do up to 30,000 to 31,000 a day,” Cayetano said.
Cayetano said the DFA has also taken other measures to address the passport delays including the removal of 1,200 appointment slots previously reserved daily for travel agencies, the restriction of DFA employees’ access and referral to the courtesy lane, cancellation of bogus appointments, and overbooking of appointments.