The Philippines has ranked 72nd among global countries with the most powerful passports, according to the latest 2018 Henley Passport Index.
The country notched one rank up from 67th from 66th place last year, wherein Philippine passports can enter 62 countries visa-free.
Germany topped this year’s list, with German passport holders able to enter 161 countries without a visa. Tied at second place were Singapore, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Italy, France, Spain and South Korea.
The Palace welcomed Saturday the country’s improved rankings, now tying up with Zambia and Zimbabwe.
“We are assuring everyone that our people at the Department of Foreign Affairs [DFA] will continue to work towards securing visa-free access of Filipinos to more countries,” Roque said.
Meanwhile, in line with the reported backlogs on passport appointments by the DFA, the spokesperson disclosed that the government is exerting all efforts to improve the process of passport applications.
He cited the DFA’s plan to implement several improvements in the agency’s passport system to make it more convenient for the public, among which, the streamlining of the passport application process, an improved and more user-friendly Online Appointment System (OAS), additional passport appointment slots and consular offices outside Metro Manila, the setting up of an e-Payment system, availability of OFW lanes, and the reduction of the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) backlog from 33,000 to zero, among others.
Moreover, Roque said that the DFA also plan to deploy Passporting on Wheels (POW) vehicles starting January 2018 to decongest the consular offices in Manila.
The agency would likewise continue to deploy weekly Mobile Passporting Services in key locations nationwide, he added.