Passport applicants hail Duterte’s ‘no more long lines’ policy

DAVAO CITY — The Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) applying for new or renewal of passports were happy on the ‘no more long lines’ policy of President Rodrigo Duterte, stressing they are happier as they will no longer have to spend overnight sleeping on pavements outside the SM Davao to get priority numbers.

The long lines and the sight of people sleeping on road pavements from closing to opening of the SM Davao, where the office of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA)-Davao is holding office, never skip then Mayor Duterte every time he goes home on late night or dawn everyday.

Thus, he made this as part of his crusade to institute a new system that would stop such practice of lining up from the night before until the mall opening just to get priority number for passport application. The number does not even guarantee if your application will be processed immediately – depending if you have the correct requirements.

In his State of the Nation Address (SONA), President Duterte cited the Davao situation and on the clamor of the citizens for timely issuance of passports.

“Make use of the computer. I do not want to see people lining up under the heat of the sun. I do not want people lining up under the rain,” he said.

He said he wants a journal. “When the applicant presents the documents, give them a shopping list. Do not add or get anything away from it. Iyon lang yun (That’s it) final. And when he complies with that, that is good. Huwag mo na siyang pabalikin (Do not let him come back),” said the President.

The President even asked Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay to check the back of the mall. He was referring to the parking area near the Annex building of SM.

In an interview Tuesday with Kuwait-bound Juneveb Romano, who is now on her third visit to the DFA, said she first came to DFA Office on June 8 to get an application form but without getting an advice what will be the requirements to comply. She was only told to refer at the back of the form.

Romano, who is from Kabacan, North Cotabato, came back on Monday to file her application with the requirements such as the Postal ID, an NSO (National Statistics Office)-certified birth certificate but she was dismayed when she was required to submit a voter certification. But she was still among those who waited outside of the mall on Tuesday hoping her application would still be processed. She said she can’t have a voter’s certification because she was not a registered voter.

Upon learning of the President’s call for new system of passport processing, Romano and the other applicants waiting outside of the mall chorused they were happy.

Jenelyn Doria, who is for job placement in Saudi Arabia, said, “Nalipay ko. Dili baya sayon sige balik Tagum to Davao…lingkod sa gawas…init…mahal pamasahe…ug mahal ang pagkaon (I am happy. It is not easy to keep come back and forth from Tagum to Davao…sit outside…it’s hot…fare is expensive…and food here is expensive),” said Doria, who said she is not even sure if she will be submitting correct requirements.

Marisyl Villaver from Panabo City is also applying for the renewal of her passport. She came early knowing the experience of her husband last year. She recalled her husband came at 11pm and slept outside of the mall just to make sure he gets a priority number in the morning. Each day, DFA-Davao processes about 200 to 300 applications.

“Bisag dinhi na siya natulog dili pa gani siya nauna nasilbihan (Even if he slept here he is not even the first to be served),” Villaver said.

But Villaver, who is submitting her application, said she has seen some little changes after Mr. Duterte kept talking about the passport system and warned those who fail to improve the system.

A DFA personnel distributes priority numbers starting at 8:00 a.m outside of the mall unlike before that it was only the security guard.

“Maayo gyud ng gibuhat sa Presidente aron dili na mi maglisod (It is good that the President did it so that we will not have difficulty),” she said.

Duterte also assured to work towards the amendment of the 1996 Passport Law to lengthen the validity of the passports from the current five years to 10 years.

He asked Congress to stretch a little bit because five years is just really simply on a regular basis. Lilian Mellejor/PNA/