FFE Magazine

Average Pinoy soon to have passports within reach

by FFE PH News staff

Dreams of going abroad can be better fulfilled if a proposed measure to make passport applications more accessible pushes through.

Albay 2nd District representative Al Francis Bichara’s proposal is his response to travel agencies that have been providing passport applications to their clients, saying ‘If travel agencies can do that – they collect passport applications – why can’t local government units (LGUs) do the same thing?’

The proposal is meant to benefit Filipinos who live in far-flung areas who ‘have to go all the way’ to regional centres just to apply for a passport.

Bichara said that the proposal is meant to be included in the amendment of the Passport Act of 1996 through House Bill No. 12. He added that the amendment of the law is all thanks to a healthier economy, making it possible for more Filipinos to obtain a passport since ‘this it is a constitutional right.’

Cebu 3rd District representative Gwendolyn Garcia has fully supported the proposal in a committee meeting on Monday. She added that LGUs ‘have the proper networks’ to help people get passports.

Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA) president John Paul Cabalza also agreed, saying ‘Because there are really areas that we can’t reach … I think we really need greater arm’s length in terms of getting through especially in provincial places.’

Former PTAA president Marciano Ragaza however cautioned LGUs to apply ‘strict controls’ if the proposal pushes through to prevent falsification of documents and the rejection of Philippine passport-holders in other countries.

The proposal passed the third reading in the previous Congress, but the Senate has yet to act on it.

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