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DFA seeks Congress backing on 3rd generation shift of e-passport system

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has sought Congress’ backing to its bid to shift the country’s e-passport system to third generation wherein those who renew their passports will no longer be required to appear at the consular offices.

MANILA BULLETIN FILE

DFA Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs Neil Frank Ferrer made the appeal to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, chaired by Zamboanga Sibugay 2nd District Rep. Ann Hofer during its recent virtual deliberations on a substitute measure seeking to amend the Philippine Passport Act of 1996.

“We are seeking for the assistance and help of Congress to provide the necessary budget for the Department in order for us to implement the changes that we would like to make passporting system more responsive to the needs of our citizens, especially our senior citizens,” he said, after La Union 2nd District Rep. Sandra Eriguel proposed that senior citizens “be afforded with special privilege of renewing their passport without the need of personal appearance.”

Ferrer told lawmakers that preparations are underway for the country’s “transition” to a third generation e-passport system.

“Currently, we are undertaking the preparations to transition to third generation e-passport so that there will be no need for personal appearance for everyone who will be renewing their passport. However, the Department can only implement this if we are given the budget,” Ferrer said.

He explained that under the current system or the so-called second generation e-passport, personal appearance is one of the main requirements.

“Thus, the Department is constrained by technology in adopting the no appearance concept. However, for senior citizens and other individuals who are unable to physically visit our consular office due to health reason and need to travel for medical purposes, the Department could dispatch a mobile passporting team to visit the senior citizens at home where his or her photo, biometric data, and biographic data will be captured and encoded, and afterwards, the passport will be delivered to the residence of the senior citizen,” Ferrer said.

The DFA official said they require personal appearance because they need to capture the photograph and the fingerprints of the passport applicant.

“Those are key security features that we are incorporating in our passports. At the moment, we are only capturing four fingerprints, but because of evolving technology and security, we are right now making the necessary preparations for all the 10 fingerprints of a person plus the photo. In the photo, we will incorporate facial recognition technology,” he said.

“Those are key security features, those are standards being implemented right now by countries, especially those who have transitioned to higher technology and systems for electronic passports,” Ferrer said.

Cagayan de Oro 2nd District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, who moved for the approval of Eriguel’s amendment to the substitute measure, vowed to support the DFA’s initiative.

“We will provide the budget precisely to have that technology to capture online the features and fingerprints. We will provide the budget for that, certainly, so that the senior citizens do not have to go to consular offices anymore,” he said.

The Hofer panel also approved Rodriguez’s proposals to grant a 32 percent discount to all senior citizens on all passport issuance or renewal fees, and to include the Philippine map and an inset on Sabah on the last page of the Philippine passport.

The substitute measure, which is a consolidation of seven measures, has been referred to the House Committee on Appropriations for its deliberation and approval.


Source: Manila Bulletin (https://mb.com.ph/2020/08/21/dfa-seeks-congress-backing-on-3rd-generation-shift-of-e-passport-system/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=dfa-seeks-congress-backing-on-3rd-generation-shift-of-e-passport-system)

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