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10-year passports for Filipinos just a signature away from reality
July 3, 2017, 3:59 pm

A proposal extending the validity period of Philippine passports to 10 years is just awaiting President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature, for it to become a law, a Senator said on Wednesday. Senator Cynthia Villar, vice-chairperson of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations said she is confident that the president will prioritise the signing of the law that would double the validity period of Philippine passports, from the current five years, to ten.

“Extending the validity of passports from five to 10 years is included in the president’s legislative agenda. With the speed and efficiency both houses of Congress provided in passing this bill, it goes without saying that we are all in agreement that this measure will work for the benefit of the travelling public, especially our overseas Filipino workers,” Villar said.

Duterte had repeatedly said that lengthening the validity period of Philippine passport is among the priority of his administration.

He said that he feels with the difficulty of Filipino travellers, particularly those wishing to travel to abroad for employment and provide for their family. He said that in their desire to work out of the country, overseas Filipino workers or those prospecting to become one, had to wait in long queues and bear the cost of travelling to get their passport.

Villar said that the Bicameral Conference Committee [both Senate and the House of Representatives] had agreed to adopt in full all sections of the Senate version or Senate Bill 1365.

The bill seeks to amend Section 10 of Republic Act 8239 or the Philippine Passport Act of 1996 by extending the validity of regular passports for a period of 10 years. Under the measure, individuals below 18 years of age will only be issued a five-year passport.

“The bill will now be submitted for the president’s signature,” Villar said. Among those who took part in approving the move to extend the validity of passports are Senators Joel Villanueva, Richard Gordon, Juan Miguel Zubiri, and Paolo Benigno Aquino IV as well as Rep. Linabelle Ruth Villarica heads the House of Representatives conferees with members Representatives Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Ana Cristina Siquian Go, Alexandria Gonzales, and Aniceto Bertiz III.

The upper chamber approved the bicameral report in its plenary session on Wednesday while the lower house approved the report on Tuesday.

Arroyo, the former President of the Republic and incumbent second congressional district of Pampanga Representative, had said that the present five-year validity is rather “too short given the tedious process and cost it requires to obtain or renew a passport.” Arroyo chairs the House technical working group that consolidated the 22 measures in filed before the chamber seeking to lengthen the validity of passports.

Source: Gulf News

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