Sen. Villar files bill to extend passport validity to 10 years

MANILA — In response to the call of President Rodrigo Duterte to stretch the validity of passport, Senator Cynthia Villar on Wednesday filed a bill extending the passport expiration from five to 10 years.

“This amendment is a measure that will enable us to comply with President Duterte’s directive to avoid long queues for government services,” Villar said in filing Senate Bill No. 324.

The bill aims to amend Republic Act No. 8239 of the Philippine Passport Act of 1996 which established the guidelines for the application and issuance of passports.

“Increasing the passports’ validity will, in effect, lessen the frequency and volume of applications for renewal and will contribute in reducing, if not eliminating, the long queues at Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) offices,” Villar said.

In his first State of the Nation Address, Duterte asked the Congress to pass the law that would lengthen the validity of the passports even up to 30 years.

”You are the ones who will pass the law, even if you make it good for 30 years, that’s okay for me. That’s your call. Stretch a little bit because five years is just really simply on a regular basis,” the President said.

Villar said the President’s call was also timely amid the increasing number of Filipinos travelling abroad either to work or for vacation.

Under the proposal, regular passports issued to adult applicants will be valid for a period of ten years while those regular passports issued to minors shall be valid for a period of five years.

The bill also authorizes the DFA, in its discretion, to decrease the period of validity in both instances whenever national economic interest or political stability of the country warrants it.

Villar said the passports with longer validity will complement the measures adopted by the DFA to address the long queues and ease the backlogs in both application and release of passports such as additional frontline personnel, change in the layout of work stations and locations of service providers, and the institution of a dedicated OFW lane.

She noted that countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand issue passports with ten-year validity. Jelly Musico/PNA/northboundasia.com