MANILA – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) plans to put up 27 new passport processing offices in a bid to hasten the issuance of passports.
"I would say it will significantly decongest (the volume of passport applicants)," said Assistant Secretary Frank Cimafranca of the DFA’s Office of Consular Affairs.
This plan is part of a draft executive order awaiting the approval of the DFA secretary, he said.
The DFA now has 16 operating consular offices.
Eleven consular offices have been created and now in operation but in an "ad hoc capacity" or without a supporting executive order. This means they do not have an operational budget, Cimafranca said.
The DFA hopes to have the approval of the executive order in a month's time so it can be included in the proposed DFA budget for 2018.
The DFA is considering using its savings for the new offices in case the funds for these are not included in next year's budget.
At the House Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing this afternoon, Cimafranca blamed the limited capability of the department’s processors and its lack of manpower for the slow processing of passport applications.
"We have 26 regular staff, 27 contractual, 2 service contracts, 12 outsourced personnel in the two regional consular offices," he said.
Cimafranca said, there has been a 29.15% increase in passport applications from 2010 to 2016.
"Considering the population of the Philippines has reached to 103 million, we foresee the upward trend in the demand for passports will continue," he said.