The Department of Foreign Affairs will impose an additional P50 e-Payment for passport application and renewal, a move that is expected to generate additional revenues of at least P600,000 a day.
In a press conference, Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said the e-Payment Portal was intended to help increase its capacity to receive and process passport applications.
“Not only will this new payment system be convenient since applicants can pay the fees anywhere, anytime; it will also help us maximize the capacity of our consular offices,” Cayetano said.
DFA Undersecretary Jose Luis Montales said the e-Payment Portal required passport applicants to prepay the processing fees though selected payment centers and, eventually, through debit and credit cards and over-the-counter cash transactions in select banks.
Meanwhile, Cayetano on Thursday announced the opening of 100,000 appointment slots for passport application and renewal to address the increasing backlog.
Of the total slots, 50,000 were opened at noon with the remaining 50,000 to be made available at 9 pm. Cayetano also said that 10,000 slots will be opened from Monday to Saturday, except for holidays.
The 10,000 are on top of the 336,743 appointment slots for June 1 to Sept. 30, 2018, that have already been opened and taken up.
Upon checking the passport.gov.ph website at around 2 pm, the earliest available appointment for DFA-Aseana is on June 25.
The DFA reminded all applicants to refresh the website.
In a press conference, Cayetano reported the DFA had increased its capacity from 10,500 daily passport appointments in 2017 to 19,000 this year.
Citizen Emilou Pastor said a P50 additional fee was expensive, adding she was not paying any fee when she paid her electricity and water bills in any Bayad Center.
Cayetano noted that e-Payment tests at DFA Aseana in Parañaque City posted a show-up rate of 94-97 percent compared to the current 60-65 percent.
“With near 100 percent show-up rates and quicker turnaround of applicants at our consular offices, the DFA through e-Payment will be able to serve more applicants daily, particularly those who need it the most,” Cayetano said.
In addition, e-Payment will also nix fixers and scammers since the scheme requires applicants to pay the fee prior to their personal appearance at their consular office of choice.
The appointment made is non-transferable.
“The e-Payment portal has safeguards in place that will discourage and prevent unscrupulous individuals from hoarding passport appointment slots,” Cayetano said.
Applicants can pay the passport processing fee through any of the following payment centers: Bayad Center; EcPay; Pera Hub; Robinsons Business Center and Department Store; Walter Mart Department Store; 7-Eleven; USCC Western Union; and Villarica Pawnshop.
Other payment centers as well as credit/debit card payment facility will be made available soon.
Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs Frank Cimafranca said the e-Payment portal would initially apply for applications lodged at the DFA Aseana Consular Office beginning June and would be rolled out in Metro Manila in July and nationwide by August.
“The e-Payment system is just one of the programs the DFA is introducing to improve people’s access to its passporting services,” Cimafranca said.
Irate netizens, on the other hand, swamped the social media account of Cayetano with complaints while the latter was launching a new e-Payment system for passport online application in Taguig City on Thursday.
In particular, the netizens were airing their frustration over the difficulties in securing appointment slots at the DFA’s online passport application site.
The launching of the DFA’s e-Payment portal also coincided with Cayetano’s announcement of an additional 100,000 passport application appointment slots to “address the current backlog in the online application and renewal system.”
A female netizen described the online application as “bulok” or rotten while another individual monitoring Cayetano’s Facebook live broadcast complained that his family had been going back and forth to the DFA for their passports. With PNA