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President gets first RP electronic passport

First Posted 18:09:00 08/11/2009

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MANILA, Philippines ? President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo received the first electronic passport in the country on Tuesday at the launch of the cutting edge travel document at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), which is celebrating its 111th Founding Day anniversary.

The President?s e-passport, which bears the serial number EA0000001, was handed to her 20 minutes after her biometric information, digital signature, and digital photograph was taken within a couple of minutes.

A joint project of the DFA and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), the e-passport makes the Philippines compliant with international standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), of which it is a member.

DFA Secretary Alberto Romulo said the new passport would make it easier for Filipino travelers and migrant workers to move across borders as the e-passport has various security features, including a hidden encoded image; an ultra-thin, holographic laminate; and a tamper-proof electronic microchip.

Its Integrated Circuit (IC) chip stores the passport holder?s photograph and other personal data for easy verification of identity and is fully inter-operable which means that the chip can be read by border control officials in other countries using a passport chip reader.

The e-passport, which is also expected to further cut down incidents of passport fraud and tampering, will be available for a fee of P950..

?Initially, application for the e-passport will be on appointment basis. Full implementation of the project will take place in the next three months,? the DFA said in a statement.

?Filipino passport applicants may still choose between the e-passport or the machine readable passport currently priced at P500,? it added.

The e-passport project is part of the DFA?s passport modernization program started in 2007 with the launch of the machine readable passport. To date, about four million MRPs have been issued.

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