MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte urged Congress on Monday, July 25, to amend a 20-year-old law so that they can extend the validity of Philippine passports to 10 years.
The Philippine Passport Act of 1996 says regular Philippine passports
"shall be valid for a period of 5 years."
In his first State of the Nation Address (SONA), Duterte told lawmakers in jest: "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 craft the law, you're the ones who will pass the law, even if you make it good for 30 years, it's fine with me, it's up to you. Just stretch it a little bit.)
To drive home his point, Duterte recounted seeing passport applicants outside SM mall in Davao City, where the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) accepts passport applications in a satellite office.
He said many of these applicants stay overnight, sleeping on pavements, because SM hosts the DFA's only satellite office in Davao City.
Describing the sight of passport applicants there, Duterte said, "Nasasaktan talaga ako. Masakit ito." (I'm really hurt. This is really painful.)
Duterte then addressed his 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."
Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr earlier said Duterte has ordered him to speed up processes for Filipinos.
Yasay said the DFA under Duterte 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."
In his inaugural speech on June 30, Duterte also directed Cabinet secretaries and heads of agencies "to reduce requirements and the processing time of all applications, from the submission to the release." – Rappler.com
Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.