MANILA, Philippines – Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. has directed all Philippine embassies and consulates worldwide to accommodate walk-in transactions by Monday, March 21, after over two years of limited consular operations due to the pandemic.
DFA Undersecretary for consular affairs Brigido Dulay made the announcement on Wednesday, March 16, after all local consular offices have started accepting walk-in applicants for courtesy lanes.
“SFA Locsin has ordered all our embassies and consulates worldwide to return to normal (pre-pandemic) operations just like DFA Philippines. We cannot discriminate against those slaving in PH HQ. WALK-IN transactions in all Posts abroad shall RESUME on Monday, March 21st,” Dulay said on Twitter.
Figures from the DFA in 2021 showed the agency had an estimated backlog of about 2.3 million passport issuances that needed to be addressed, after quarantine restrictions hampered consular operations both in the Philippines and foreign posts abroad.
The DFA earlier said the figure was based on the difference in numbers of passports released n 2020, 1.7 million, compared to 2019, when over 4 million passports were released. Historically, the agency often releases about 4 million passports per year.
Locsin’s latest order comes after he directed the country’s foreign posts abroad to receive applications for refugee status from people fleeing Ukraine.
The DFA was instructed to begin accepting applications, Locsin said, “while it works out an arrangement with the Department of Justice for an efficient process (to be initiated by my foreign posts) with the DOJ having the last say.” – Rappler.com