MANILA, Philippines -- A total of 1,106 passport applicants availed themselves of the online appointment system of the Department of Foreign Affairs on its first day of implementation January 14, a DFA official said Tuesday.
DFA spokesman Claro Cristobal said all these applicants for renewal of passports would be scheduled for the application of their new machine-readable travel documents from Wednesday onward.
He said online applicants would not have to wait for a long time on queue, but would be given an allotted time when they could submit all the requirements for a passport.
Under this system, those with expired or about-to-expire passports and senior citizens could e-mail email@example.com and give out the following information: first name, middle name, surname, date of birth, place of birth, number of old passport, expiry date of old passport, and issuance date of old passport.
The system was devised to ease the long lines of passport applicants at the DFA offices in Pasay City, which has been swamped with applicants since late November.
Cristobal said the peak for passport application was expected to last until March. The period between November and March coincides with vacation season when people usually travel, he said.
Apart from being the traveling season, the heavy traffic at the consular office is partially caused by the machine-readable passport, Cristobal said. Unlike before, when those renewing their passport need not go to the DFA, the machine-readable passport requires personal appearance for the applicants? biometrics, he added.
Cristobal said the machine-readable passport, which makes for a more hassle-free inspection through immigration in other countries, has also become very convenient for Filipino travelers.
?Even those whose passports have not expired or are still valid for two years want the new passports,? he said.
The usual 3,000 to 3,500 applicants every day has increased by almost twice the number since the peak season for passport application has started.
On Monday, DFA Secretary Alberto Romulo requested those who didn?t need their passports right away to postpone their application until after the peak season. He also suggested that those from the provinces should submit their applications to the nearest regional consular office in their area.
The DFA has 11 consular offices nationwide: Tuguegarao, Cagayan Valley; San Fernando, La Union; Clark, Pampanga; Legazpi City; Lucena City; Cebu City; Iloilo City; Tacloban City; Davao City; Cagayan De Oro City; and Zamboanga City.