Travel agencies on Tuesday appealed to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to restore their previously allotted slots for passport renewal and application processing.
The travel agencies made their appeal at a press conference in Microtel in Pasay City.
According to Marlene Dado Jante, president of the Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA), the DFA removed the slots for online application allotted to them on July 31, 2017. She said they were told this was only a temporary setup.
“Ang pangako nila three months lang, maire-restore ulit,” Jante said. “Sinabi sa ‘min isususpende muna pansamantala.”
The DFA supposedly cited “cleansing” of their system as reason for the removal of the slots.
“Nagtaka kami bakit hindi na sila nagpatawag sa amin ng meeting. Napaka-unfair para sa travel association,” Jante said.
Jante said that they have been in partnership with the DFA since 2012. Registered travel agencies were allocated 1,000 appointments daily. A total of 256 travel agencies are accredited by the DFA nationwide.
“From there, it is already clear that under the law, travel agencies are allowed to assist their clients in processing their passport application,” Jante said.
She said their assistance has made things simpler and faster for both the DFA and the applicants, because they ensure the completion of requirements, and lower the rate of wasted appointments.
Jante also said 15 percent of the revenue of travel agencies come from passport processing.
While the PTAA said it supports the drive of the government to weed out “unscrupulous individuals selling bogus appointments,” it wants the slots previously allotted to them to be restored.
Jante said that many are reaching out to them for help in securing passports but they are unable to do anything because they are no longer authorized to secure appointments.
“Nalulungkot kami na hindi na namin matulungan ang matagal na naming kliyente,” she said.
A total of 1,200 fixed passport appointments daily were opened to the public following the removal.
Ricarte Abejuela III, acting director of the Passport Division of the Office of Consular Affairs, said in a statement that the new policy means the clients of travel agencies will now have to go through the same process as others when applying for or renewing their passports.
The DFA has come under heavy fire from Filipinos — including those working abroad — who are renewing their passports because of difficulties in getting appointment through the agency’s online facilities.
The DFA’s Facebook page has been flooded with complaints from people unable to get appointments earlier than March. —KBK, GMA News
“Courtesy of GMA News”