The Senate has approved on second reading a bill extending the validity of Philippine passports from the current five years to 10 years.
The motion to adopt Senate Bill No. 1365—a consolidated measure authored by nine senators—was adopted late Monday evening.
A counterpart measure was already passed in the House of Representatives in February.
Senator Cynthia Villar said passports of several countries, including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Vietnam and Cambodia, are already valid for 10 years.
Philippine passports, however, are valid for only five years and can no longer be used six months before the expiration date.
“In effect, it’s four and a half years. It’s really cumbersome to travelers so we felt that we should lengthen it,” Villar said.
Villar dispelled apprehensions that extending the validity period of passports would impact on government revenues. Passport applications, she said, increase by 30 percent every year.
“Whatever we will lose in terms of renewal will be compensated by the increase in passport application,” she said.
The government collects around P4 billon a year from passport applications.
Meanwhile, the Senate committee on public services chaired by Senator Grace Poe approved a measure seeking to lengthen the validity of all drivers’ licenses from the current three years to five years.
The proposal was contained in three bills filed separately by Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto and Senators Richard Gordon and Joseph Victor Ejercito.
During the hearing, Land Transportation Office executive director Romeo Vera-Cruz said the agency has already started issuing driver’s licenses that are valid for five years “but without cards.”
Cruz said the release of the new license cards, which will have better security features, “would be in August this year.”
Poe reminded the LTO that it was given P526 million for the new driver’s licenses.
The new driver’s licenses, Poe said, will feature a hologram mark and “hidden” data.
She said traffic violations will be uploaded on the system and the barcodes in the license will reflect the charges immediately.