The Philippine passport is weak at 80th on list of 'powerful' passports

The Philippine passport is weak at 80th on list of 'powerful' passports
In this photo from the Bureau of Immigration Facebook page, an immigration officer inspects a traveler's passport.
Bureau of Immigration FB Page

MANILA, Philippines — As borders ease for travel even amid the pandemic, many Filipinos planning to go abroad have had to go through the painstaking process of applying for visas in destinations that require them. 

Some of these countries include the US, Australia, the United Kingdom and other European countries, as well as Canada, China, and Japan. 

Countries may require foreign nationals to obtain a visa, an entry document needed to ensure that one is authorized to enter the destination country in the first place. There are also different kinds of non-immigrant visas issued depending on the purpose of travel.

Visa application requirements would often include proof of employment, bank statements and other proof of financial means, a detailed itinerary of the trip including a proof of accommodation, and an interview with an officer at the embassy or consulate. 

This is on top of a visa application fee that could reach thousands of pesos.

Lower rank

The Philippine passport ranked 80th in the Q3 2022 Henley Passport Index, which ranks 199 passports according to its mobility in 227 travel destinations. The ranking is based on data from the International Air Transport Association. 

Japan tops the list, with its passport holders being able to visit 193 countries visa-free. Running in second are Singapore and South Korea, whose passport holders have access to 192 countries. 

Also included in the top five most powerful passport holders are Germany, Spain, Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Sweden. 

The Philippines is only at the 80th rank, with a visa being required when travelling to 160 countries. 

Philippine passport holders can only visit 67 countries visa-free as the country would sometimes have visa policies and agreements with other nations.

For example, ASEAN nations have inked an agreement on visa exemption, which allows its passport holders to freely travel within the region.

However, despite some Filipinos being able to successfully obtain a visa — some would overstay instead of going back home. In 2019, the US suspended its issuance of H-2A/H-2B temporary work visas after issues of human trafficking and overstaying were raised by the US Department of Homeland Security.

Gap in ‘travel freedom’

Henley & Partners CEO Dr. Juerg Steffen notes that there is a "growing gap in travel freedom" among countries, with the highest-ranking passports and the lowest having a 166-destination divide. 

There is also a strong correlation between a country’s passport power and its “peacefulness.” 

Stephen Klimczuk-Massion, Quondam Fellow of Oxford University's Saïd Business School and member of the Advisory Committee of the Andan Foundation, noted that a person’s passport will affect how they are treated in destination countries. 

"The relative strength or weakness of a particular national passport directly affects the quality of life for the passport holder and may even be a matter of life and death in some circumstances," Klimczuk-Massion said.


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