THE DEPARTMENT of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has canceled the privilege of fixed passport appointments allotted to travel agencies, thus freeing up 1,200 slots for applicants daily.
In a statement on Monday, the DFA said that with the new policy that took effect Aug. 1, clients of travel agencies will now undergo the same process as all other applicants for a new passport or renewal.
The new policy also affects DFA employees as only their immediate family are now allowed to use the express lane.
“We really want to give back the courtesy lane to those who are entitled to it. These are the senior citizens, persons with disabilities, solo parents, children 7 years and below and Overseas Filipino Workers,” said Ricarte B. Abejuela III, acting director of the Passport Division of the Office of the Consular Affairs.
The Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA), in an earlier statement, said the new policy affects the business of its members, especially as peak season nears.
The PTAA said while it supports government initiatives, it is hoping that the DFA will grant travel agencies a once-a-week access to its mobile passport service, which will be rolled out in October within Metro Manila.
In a previously released statement, the PTAA pointed out that under “Section 6 of The Philippine Passport Act of 1996, travel agencies are allowed to process passport renewals provided that they are responsible for the authenticity of the supporting documents being presented to meet the requirements for the application of passports.”
Tourism Secretary Wanda C. Teo, according to PTAA, had committed to the group’s president, Marlene Dado Jante, that she will personally hold a meeting with DFA Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano to resolve the concerns of travel agencies. She also wants the PTAA represented during the meeting. — Mario M. Banzon
Courtesy of Business World