During his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) as the new President of the Republic of the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte encouraged the Congress last Monday, July 25, 2016, to amend the 20-year-old law to extend the validity of Philippine passports to up to 10 years.
The Philippine Passport Act of 1996 tells us that regular Philippine passports “shall be valid for a period of 5 years.”
Pres. Duterte even joked about it telling the lawmakers:
“Tutal kayo naman ang maggagawa ng batas, you’re the ones who will pass the law, even if you make it good for 30 years, okay ako, bahala kayo. Basta stretch a little bit.”
(Because you yourselves will make the law, you’re the ones who will pass the law, even if you make it good for 30 years, it’s okay with me, it’s up to you. Just stretch it a little bit.)
To illustrate why this is necessary, Duterte shared a personal experience where he saw numerous passport applicants outside of the SM mall in Davao City where the satellite office of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) accepts passport applications. According to him, some of the applicants stay overnight and they even had to sleep on pavements – something the President really doesn’t approve of.
In his own words, he said “Nasasaktan talaga ako. Masakit ito.”
(I’m really hurt. This is really painful.)
Duterte told the Cabinet members:
“Make use of the computer. I do not want to see people lining up under the heat of the sun. I do not want people lining up under the rain.”
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Perfecto Yasay Jr, the DFA secretary, has earlier mentioned the directive he received from Duterte to improve their process for the public. He said that they will “make sure that other services that we render to the public, especially with the regards to the issuance of travel documents, passports, and other documentations needed for the free passage and travel of our people, will be cut to the minimum in terms of red tape.”
Well we all couldn’t help but be excited about how things will unfold in the near future. Good call, President Duterte!