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BAD TRIP, ‘DI MAKA-OVERSEAS TRIP? | DFA spokesman promises ‘FASTport’ in coming months

File photo of DFA spokesman Undersecretary Ernesto Abella

Is your patience already wearing thin because you feel that you’re being robbed of your right to travel abroad?

Wait for August. Undersecretary Ernesto Abella, formerly the spokesman of President Rodrigo Duterte and now the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA)’ mouthpiece, said that “God, willing,” this would be the month when most of the passport application and renewal headaches of Filipinos would start to subside.

Ang assurance sa akin…sa Aseana nagsimula na, tapos ang susunod is NCR, it will be first week of July. Tapos hopefully by the first week of August nationwide na tayo,” Abella said last Wednesday, June 13, during an interview with dzRH’s Henry Uri.

Abella was referring to the DFA’s target of fast-tracking the processes involved in passport application and renewal and the opening of more passport slots, which the spokesperson said would greatly improve once the department’s electronic payment system is established in Metro Manila by July and nationwide by August.

The e-payment portal has already started operating at the DFA’s Aseana office in Parañaque City, according to Abella. He said the system would be among the agency’s solutions to the many cases of passport slot fixing and no-show applicants, which comprise 40 percent of online appointments.

Maraming nag-aabang online kumukuha sila ng slots available tapos ‘yon ang kumbaga naibebenta nila. Pero ngayon, that will be avoided…kasi marami naman sa nakakauha ng slots non-appearance, hindi sila nakakasipot,” said Abella.

Because applicants will be required by the DFA to immediately pay for their passport renewal or application via the agency’s e-payment facility, individuals who really have no intention to complete the process would already be dissuaded from reserving slots, according to Abella.

“With the DFA e-payment portal ay maso-solve ‘yan…Sa Aseana...ang appearance daw po ngayon ay between 95 (and) 97 percent. So mas mabilis ngayon ang pag-facilitate [That will be solved with the DFA e-payment portal…At Aseana…the appearance now of applicants is between 95 and 97 percent. So the facilitation now is faster],” he said.

Also, the DFA spokesperson said the agency had been developing a system that would make it possible for applicants to pay their passport fees via payment centers nationwide.

“Also within about three to six months, or God willing, August, p’wede na ring magbayad [applicants can already pay] online either through debit card of credit card,” Abella said.

The DFA has opened passport slots for July to September 2018. Abella said that “within three to six months,” the slots would be available “all the way up to about one year.”

Kasi right now, three months’ advance pa lang…Kina-calibrate lang, dinadahan-dahan dahil inaantabayanan ‘yong dalawa. First ‘yong pag-a-upgrade, pangalawa ‘yong…demand para hindi mag-flood [Because right now, it’s just three months’ advance…It is being calibrated gradually, we are readying two things. First, the systems upgrade and second…the demand so we won’t be flooded],” he said.

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