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3 months for a passport appointment? Here’s why

/ 05:51 AM July 30, 2016

MALVAR, BATANGAS—Ever wonder why it takes two to three months to schedule a passport application appointment online?

APO Production Unit Inc., the government-owned printing facility, has foiled a lucrative scam of fixers who has reserved up to 450 slots for passport applicants which they sell at P5,000 each for those in desperate need of travel documents.

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APO Production sales manager Dominic Tajon said these fixers, who are believed to be backed by syndicates, earn as much as P2.5 million by blocking passport application slots.

The rates for the reserved online passport schedule start at P5,000 and can go higher depending on the applicants’ preferred date of application or renewal of their passports, he said.

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“The days of fixers are numbered because the Department of Foreign Affairs has allowed APO Production to handle the end-to-end passport processing in the next two months,” said Tajon in an interview with the diplomatic press corps on Thursday.

He said the public can expect ease in getting online appointment by September, when applicants under the old system would have been accommodated.

Tajon said the scam has been uncovered by information technology experts while installing the new security feature in the DFA’s online passport application on June 17.

DFA spokesperson Charles Jose said regional consular offices of the DFA will also institute a similar appointment system so the applicants will be spared the hassles of long queues.

“In Aseana, we will also see considerable improvement in getting online appointments once measures we’ve instituted a month or so ago start taking effect in August and September,” said Jose in a text message.

APO has signed a memorandum of agreement with the DFA in Oct. 5, 2015, that allows the firm to handle the end-to-end passport system.

He said the new integrated system aims to meet the demands for continued production of electronic passports to comply with the standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization, a United Nations attached agency.

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“A new security system has been installed last June 17 that scrutinizes the identity of applicants,” he said.

Tajon toured reporters yesterday at the highly secured APO Processing Plant at the Lima Export Processing Zone in Malvar, Batangas, showing the new facilities and equipment to be used in producing the newly designed Philippine passport.

The DFA is expected to launch the new Philippine passport on Aug. 15.

He said APO had to start from scratch since the previous company that handled passport production did not turn over the facility and equipment.

The DFA started the electronic passport that replaced the green passport in 2009. It contains a highly secured micro chip that contains all personal details of the passport holders.

Under the new contract, the DFA and APO Production commit “to secure the integrity of the Philippine e-passport by adopting technological developments in the production and security of e-passports.”

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TAGS: APO Production Unit Inc., DFA spokesperson Charles Jose, Passport, Passport Appointment, printing facility
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