MANILA - The Department of Foreign Affairs has an estimated backlog of about 3 million to 4 million passports because of the COVID pandemic, an official said Tuesday.
In 2019, the DFA processed 4.8 million passport applications but for 2020, it was only able to process 1.7 million, said DFA Undersecretary Brigido Dulay during the agency’s budget briefing before the House Appropriations Committee.
Dulay said it was difficult to extract the exact figures because they have no information yet who will actually apply.
During their budget briefing, the DFA appealed to lawmakers for the restoration of about P18 million that was cut by the Department of Budget and Management from its 2022 National Expenditure Program, including the budget for passport offices.
The DFA wants a P21.051 billion for 2021, of which 20.906 is for the DFA Office of the Secretary while P145.132 million will go to attached agencies.
Among the items that were cut from its budget were:
- funds for the operation of ten offsite passport services offices
- budget of posts opened in 2019
- budget for the consular offices in Dasmarinas, Paniqui, San Jose, Pagadian, and Olongapo
- increase in the funds for chancery rental
- funds for deployment and educational allowance, personnel services for posts opened in 2017 and 2018
- additional provision in the budget for Overseas Allowance to meet the calculated requirements of foreign service posts
- increase in the budget for salaries of local hires
- funds for 3 posts planned to be opened in 2020
- difference in the e-passport budget and funding for the DFA Rehabilitation and Retrofitting
The DFA also wants Congress to restore special provisions dropped from the 2022 NEP that were in the 2021 budget such as tax refunds of foreign service posts, contributions to international organizations, support to climate change negotiations and legal assistance funds.
The agency said the following provisions should be revised: DFA Working Funds, Education Allowance, Rentals of Chanceries, Consular office or embassies, passport revolving fund, quarters privileges, building fund, purchase of passport booklets, provision for agency attaches or representatives and cost sharing arrangement.
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