Tuesday, October 5, 2021

DFA to clear suspended passport application backlog by end-Oct.

 The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is targeting to clear the more than 20,000 suspended passport application backlog by the end of October, Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Senen Mangalile said Tuesday.

Out of the 696,412 passport applications from July 9 to October 2, the agency said 93 percent have been transmitted, 4 percent are for further verification, while 3 percent or 24,069 have been suspended due to errors in the forms submitted by the applicants.

"Binigyan namin ang aming sarili ng deadline na October 31 (We've given ourselves a deadline of October 31) and we will do whatever is needed to make a significant reduction in the backlog," Mangalile said in a virtual presser.

From a team of seven, the number of DFA personnel correcting the errors in these suspended applications has increased to 19.

"Realistically speaking, if we won't be able to make it by October, that will take another two weeks before we are able to overhaul the entire suspended application backlog," Mangalile said.

The DFA is also addressing the issues besetting the release and delivery of passports.

Some 184,935 passports were printed out in August 2021 but around 4,000 have been undelivered, Mangalile said.

In September, at least 223,238 passports were released but about 13,000 were undelivered due to issues with addresses or the recipient's lack of a letter of authority to receive in the absence of the applicant.

Mangalile said the majority of the undelivered passports were turned over to the DFA for release at the DoubleDragon Plaza while some are either being processed for delivery or for confirmation.

Air21 is expected to send another email blast for applicants whose passports were turned over to the DFA and the agency advised those who will receive to respond immediately.

"Sa mga hindi nakasagot sa aming email o tawag, tignan sa passport tracking system ang inyong pangalan dahil maaaring available na ang inyong passport for pick-up (To those who were unable to respond, please check the passport tracking system because your passport might already be available for pick-up)," he said.

Amid complaints of late deliveries, the DFA replaced last August the QRS (Quick Reliable Service) with domestic logistics firm Air21 as its official passport courier service provider.

Mangalile said the agency was planning to tap LBC and two other firms to deliver the passports door-to-door.

Compared to the four million passports released in 2019, the DFA was only able to process about 1.7 million in 2020 due to the restrictions posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

To ease the backlog, the DFA is opening five more temporary offsite passport services (TOPS) hubs in Cebu, Davao, Fairview, Manila and Lipa City.

On October 4, the agency inaugurated its 8th TOPS site at Robinson’s Galleria South-San Pedro, Laguna. (Joyce Ann L. Rocamora)

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