A number of Filipinos based in the United Arab Emirates are contesting the online passport appointment fee imposed by a private typing center at the Philippine Consulate-General in Dubai.
Consular officials, however, are quick to clarify that the service, which was aimed to minimize or eliminate long queues for passport renewals at the consulate, is optional.
The report said only applicants with prior appointments are accommodated for processing of passports, except for cases classified as emergency. However, those who arrive without appointments can still book a slot for AED 10 booking fee.
A Filipina, who works as administration officer, and wishes to remain anonymous, questioned the fee as booking appointments has been free outside. As staff failed to clarify the fee was optional, she thought the booking was mandatory.
Another applicant, N.B., 33, who works in Jebel Ali, said: “There were five people in the queue before me who requested for the same service and none of the staff said that we have the option to do it at home for free. The staff even said we could get the earliest schedule to convince us to avail of the service,” N.B. told Gulf News.
Deputy Consul-General Giovanni Palec said the service was just an added service for the convenience of clients.
He added that the typing service is a private business and not connected to the consulate so that those who did not wish to pay the AED 10 fee it charges can do the transactions on their own.
The Passport Appointment Portal has been in operation for the past two years, yet Palec said that between 10 to 20 people still come daily without prior appointment, Palec said. This prompted the consulate to seek the services from the typing center for a reasonable fee to cover its operations.