GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/30 May) — The Department of Foreign Affairs consular office here apologized on Monday for the delayed releases of passports that has angered applicants, with its head blaming a technical glitch on passport production by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).
Jovencio Agus, DFA regional consular officer, said the delayed passport releases are not only contained to their office but also in other branches and even at the main branch in Manila.
“The cause is a technical problem in the production of passports booklets by the BSP. As advised by the DFA main office, this problem is only temporary and will be resolved in [the] very near future as the BSP is [in] the process of upgrading their system,” Agus told MindaNews by e-mail.
Based on the DFA procedure, he noted that express passport processing should be released 25 days from the application date, and 30 working days for regular processing.
An applicant who requested anonymity said he renewed his passport last March and it was due for release on May 9, but as of Sunday he still had no copy of it.
A seaman complained that he could have already gone abroad to work but could not because he lacked a passport.
“My agency has repeatedly asked me for my passport so they can forward it to the principal so I can start working. I repeatedly followed up my passport application but they asked me to just return. It’s already long and beyond the normal processing time,” he said.
Agus admitted the complaints on the delayed release of passport are true and legitimate, noting this has affected those with travel itineraries already.
“Sad to say, we have no control on when the finished passports will actually be delivered to us from Manila for release to the applicants,” he said.
Agus did not say how many passports are pending for release.
Before the passport production glitch, he said there were cases where passports arrived a few days before or after the date of the scheduled release.
“I am therefore extending my heartfelt apologies to our clients who were greatly affected by this delayed release of passports,” said Agus in a bid to appease the passport applicants.
He expressed hopes the problem with the BSP would soon be resolved and for the situation to return to normal.
Agus advised prospective travelers to apply for their passports well in advance from their intended travel dates. (Bong Sarmiento/MindaNews)