MANILA, Philippines -- The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Friday renewed and elderly passport applicants can schedule their appointments online starting next week even as the line of those seeking a new or renewed travel document spilled into the street.
DFA spokesman Claro Cristobal said the long line is mainly due to the fact that this is the peak season for passport applications.
?We are in the middle of the peak season, which is from late November to about early April. This is the time for vacations and so it is also the time when people choose to travel,? he said.
Another reason for the long lines is that applicants for machine-readable passports, including those seeking renewals, are required to personally show up as their biometrics will be taken.
Cristobal said that those having their passports renewed may send to firstname.lastname@example.org the following details: first name, middle name, surname, date of birth, place of birth, number of old passport, expiry date of old passport, issuance date of old passport, issuance place of old passport.
The department will then e-mail them the date and time when they can go to the DFA to apply.
Cristobal said only those with expired passports, those with passports that are about to expire in one year, and senior citizens may avail themselves of the online appointment system.
The department already adopts the appointment system for walk-in applicants who choose to return for a weekend schedule, or for those who arrive after the 3,000 daily quota for walk-in passport applications has been reached.
Cristobal said the department cannot increase its quota because it cannot increase the number of service windows for lack of space.
He requested applicants whose need for a passport is not urgent to wait until after the peak to apply for their travel document.
Cristobal also asked those nearer the 11 regional consular offices -- San Fernando in La Union, Cebu City, Tuguegarao in Cagayan, Tacloban City, Clark in Pampanga, Legazpi City, Zamboanga City, Lucena City, Cagayan De Oro City, Davao City, and Iloilo City -- to submit their applications there
?They are all fully equipped with computers and software,? he said.
Soon, Cristobal said, the DFA will also accept appointments scheduling via the still-to-be-established consular call centers.
?We will give you the numbers and the operation schedule when we have set [the system] up?Those who will man the call centers still need to undergo training,? he said.
He said the mobile passport services, which are usually scheduled in faraway provinces and cities, will soon include cities within Metro Manila like San Juan and Muntinlupa.
On non-peak days, the average number of applications is only 3,500, including those who go through the courtesy lane and travel agencies. ?But since November, we have been exceeding 5,000 applicants everyday,? Cristobal said.
The record for number of applicants in 2007 was set on December 27 when 6,688 applied. January 3 was another record day with 6,638 applications.