Senator Ralph Recto has urged President Duterte to extend the validity of Philippine passports to 10 years. Once approved, this will double their validity period, which is currently at five years.
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The statement comes as a reminder to President Duterte, who had mentioned in his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) last year that Philippine passports should have “longer expiry.” During his speech, he recalled seeing applicants outside the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) office in Davao City. They had to queue overnight and even sleep on the pavement, just to apply.
Inconvenient for OFWs
Prior to this, Senator Recto had already filed a bill that sought to amend the Philippine Passport Act of 1996 (Republic Act 8239). It is only by revising this act that the 10-year extension can be done. Through the bill, Recto explained that the current situated is inconvenient for OFWS.
According to Recto, most OFWS return to the country for just two to four weeks of vacation. But instead of spending time with their families, they have to allocate most of their limited period to processing passports and other documents. “This might be too short a time,” he said.
Aside from extending passport validity, the bill also enables the foreign affairs secretary to shorten the period in certain cases. If an applicant’s documents are not sufficient, or if public safety and national security are at risk — the period can be shortened to less than 10 years.
Moreover, the bill recommends the keeping of the five-year validity for minors’ passports, as this is what the international laws require.
Extending the validity of the Philippine passport will surely be welcomed by OFWs and frequent travelers. This will enable them to spend more vacation time with their families.