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DFA mulls opening more off-site passport services, consular offices

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DFA mulls opening more off-site passport services, consular offices
File photo shows a man holding a Philippine passport.
The STAR / Edd Gumban, File

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs said it is looking into opening more temporary off-site passport services (TOPS) and more consular offices to address problems in its online appointment system.

"We have loaded more slots until the end of September," Consular Affairs Assistant Secretary Henry Bensurto, Jr. said in a press briefing on Thursday.

"Obviously, to address this matter, there are other possibilities that we can do such as the possibility of having more off-site [services] and this is very much in the equation."

Bensurto said that the DFA included these options for its budgetary proposal to Congress. He added that they are looking at opening more consular offices in the medium- to long-term both abroad and here at home to reach out more to those in the provinces.

While a consular office in Kidapawan City, North Cotabato is set to open next week, the department said it also hopes to open another office in Bohol. 

There are currently around 20 to 30 consular service posts across the country, while another 85 foreign service posts cater to Filipinos abroad. The DFA reportedly releases 20,000 passports to Filipinos here and abroad on a daily basis. 

However, glitches in the online appointment system — one major issue identified as making common entry-mistakes — have affected the department’s issuance of passports. An individual who made a mistake on their passport entry would have to apply for another appointment and make another payment since the encoder cannot make changes to the system. 

The DFA said they are also looking into addressing the issue, with Bensurto hoping that the department would apply changes to the system by the first or second week of September.

DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS

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