The House of Representatives on Monday, February 13 extended the validity of Philippine passports from the present five years to ten years.
Voting 216 for, without negative votes and abstentions, the chamber approved House Bill 4767 on third and final reading.
Congressmen also agreed to send a copy of the bill to the Senate.
The bill amends Section 10 of the Philippine Passport Act of 1996 by extending the validity of the Philippine passport from five years to ten years.
Principal of the bill included Deputy Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (Lakas-CMD, Pampanga); and Reps. Michael Romero (1Pacman Partylist); Winston Castelo (LP, Quezon City); John Bertiz (ACT OFW Partylist); Romeo Acop (LP, Antipolo City); Benhur Salimbangon (NUP, Cebu); Sol Aragones (NPC, Laguna); Eileen Ermita-Buhain (PDP-Laban, Batangas); Gus Tambunting (PDP-Laban, Paranaque City) and Henry Oaminal (PDP-Laban, Misamis Occidental).
House Bill 4767 consolidated 20 bills proposing to amend Section 10 of Republic Act 8239 providing for a five year period of validity for all passports issued to Filipino citizens.
The Department of Foreign Affairs has endorsed enactment of the measure which will conform “to international best practices.”
The House Committee on Foreign Affairs report said the bill will “ease the burden of the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), seafarers, business persons, and the traveling public from having to renew their passports every five years.
Castelo said the five year validity is considered too short that only burdens passports holders to join long lines of applicants for new and renewal of passports at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
In calling for the approval of the bill, Romero said recent technology advances that provides for foolproof security features of passports against forgery and tampering have foreclosed the need for shorter validity period for the travel document.
“If approved, this bill will spare millions of Filipinos of what has been universally described as the agony of navitaging through the bureaucratic maze in seucrity a travel document form. This is one anti-red tape measure that brings comfort to the people,” the partylist lawmaker said in the explanatory notes of HB 2153 that he filed.
Salimbangon noted that many countries in the world s, including the United States, Canada, and China, have passports validity of up to ten years.
Bertiz, who filed House Bill 2330, said the ten year validity is a welcome relief to OFWs and their familes who spend “significant amounts of time and resources” in applying for passport renewals.
He said the long queues that millions of OFWs have to endure to have their passports renewed have been criticized by President Rodrigo Duterte himself.
“This situation is untenable for OFWs and for other applicants. If left unresolved, the queues and the waiting time will get longer and the costs shouldered by the applicant will only get higher,” Bertiz explained.
According to him the extended passport validity will address the problems facing OFWs and at the same time gives the DFA a mechanism to “pro-actively deal with possible threats to the economy or to public safety. “