FOREIGN Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano may not be too keen to return the 1,200 passport appointments allotted to the accredited travel agencies, despite receiving P128,000 membership fee from 256 travel companies.
In a press conference, Cayetano said allowing them might bring a bad precedent to others as they would also start requesting for allotments and exceptions.
“I’m sorry we cannot do that because by law, those given priority are specified,” Cayetano said.
“These are people with disability, the pregnant, women accompanied by children below seven years old, or with offspring below 10 years old, single parents, senior citizens and overseas Filipino workers or OFWs,” he said.
On Tuesday, the Philippine Travel Agencies Association appealed to Cayetano to reimpose their allotted slots for passport renewal and application processing.
PTAA president Marlene Dado Jante said when the DFA came up a decision on July 31, 2017, when it temporarily removed their allotment, the agency still asked them to pay P500 each for a total of P128,000 membership fee and additional P200,000 surety bond for passporet processing.
She also cited Section 6 of the Philippine Passport Act of 1996 which stated that “In case of renewal the application may be filed by any licensed travel agency duly accredited by the Department of Foreign Affairs: Provided, that the agent shall be responsible for the authenticity of the supporting documents being presented to meet the requirements for the application of passports”.
However, in an interview with a DFA insider who refused to be named said Cayetano was firm to remove the passport appointment slots permanently.
“He [Cayetano] is pretty consistent on removal of slots,” the official admitted.
As of press time, Jante has yet to comment on the development.
He feared that if the DFA would allow them to have their previous allotment, several individuals would follow through and might ask for exceptions.
Cayetano previously mentioned that aside from accredited travel agency, government officials and military, among others, have their respective passport appointment allotment.
To resolve the matter, Cayetano suggested to travel agencies that they just have to submit their clients’ passport applications during travel fairs as the DFA would install “passport on wheel” on any travel expo events.
That way, according to Cayetano, the client would not be forced to buy ticket from the travel agencies.
However, despite the temporary removal, the DFA advised the travel agencies to still submit their yearly accreditation fee of P500 which will expire in September 2018.
Jante said Cayetano had been quiet about their plea and never held a consultation with them, a usual underetaking when a new DFA secretary takes over.
She said that it was DFA undersecretary Jose Montales who was coordinating with them on passport processing.
“Courtesy of Manila Standard.net”