Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano has said that the new version of the Philippine passport which will feature 10-year validity will be made available to overseas Filipino workers “cheaper and faster.”
Cayetano made the statement in front of 250 community leaders in a public forum at the Philippine Consulate General in Hong Kong on July 2, a day after attending the 20th anniversary of the city’s handover to China.
The DFA chief dismissed earlier reports that the new passport will cost twice the current fee of HK$480 (US$60). He, however, did not disclose the exact amount, saying that it is still currently under negotiation.
The bill extending the validity of Philippine passports from five to 10 years was ratified by both houses of Congress on May 16, and is now with the Office of the President for signing before it becomes law. The new passports will be issued after the Implementing Rules and Regulations for the new law take effect.
Cayetano disclosed that the new passports will be issued along with a smart card where holder’s details are embedded, enabling them to get renewed without requiring holders to go through the same application process, save for applicants under 18 years old for whom passport validity remains five years.
Cayetano also brought with him two additional data-capture machines which are expected to speed up the Consulate’s processing of passport applications. This supplements the Consulate’s existing four machines that accommodate a maximum of 220 applications on Sundays, the busiest day of the week.