Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) would open thousands of additional passport appointment slots today as response to the criticisms it received from the netizens this week.
This was confirmed by DFA consultant and blogger RJ Nieto in his Facebook page.
“Thousands of passport slots will be opened starting noon today,” Nieto said in his post.
Nieto also encouraged the netizens to avoid supporting “syndicates” and he said that “travel agencies have no passport slots.”
Netizens were happy for the news shared by Nieto, but they said that DFA must still continue to investigate the DFA officials that allegedly helping the travel agencies to sell passport schedule slots.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano in an interview with the press, denied the existence of the alleged syndicates inside his agency.
He also vowed to make passport application easier.
In September, DFA already barred travel agencies from getting appointment slots to make more room for the application of individuals.
However, several travel agencies in the Philippines are still offering passport appointment for the first three months of this year despite that the passport slots on the DFA website was already fully-booked.
Several netizens claimed that the travel agencies asked for P2000-P7,000 for the rushing travelers in exchange of passport appointment for the month of January to March 2018.
A Facebook page named “DFA Passport Appointment” was offering schedule slots to the netizens who were badly needed a passport.
Some of them got their passport with the help of the travel agencies.
Even Pro-Duterte blogger Sass Rogando Sasot called out Cayetano for the alleged illegal activities happening inside DFA.
A netizen messaged Sasot and complained about the fully-booked passport appointment slots in DFA that allegedly hoarded by several travel agencies and companies for their future clients.
I have been reading and following your blogs for quite some time now and I have seen how you have made efforts to help or raise concern on matters that impact our country or the government. I would like to request your help in escalating my concern to Sec Peter Cayetano regarding the passport appointment system in DFA.
My husband recently needed to renew his passport and tried to book an appointment online via passport.gov.ph
hhttp://passport.gov.ph/> but it seems that all 3 full monhs have been booked and blocked already in ALL locations and satellite offices. His passport is about to expire in March and the system only shows 3months so even if we wanted to book much earlier, it would have been way too early. In any case, I was surprised that, again, all appointments for the next 3 months are booked in ALL locations (check it and you’ll see!). Is this really possible??? Now I asked around and checked if any travel agencies are offering passport assistance and there seems to be a lot of them, all with available appointments on hand – and you can even select your preferred date!
When I asked how it is possible for them to secure those appointments without any applicant yet, I was told that they are being “assisted” by some DFA employees to block the schedules and in turn, they pay them. As my husband’s passport is already expiring, I used their services as I had no choice. All the schedules are blocked and I am guessing even if the appointment calendar shows 6 months, those will be blocked as well. Now, what I am really concerned about is the fee being collected. The “assistance” to schedule an appointment costs P4.500!!! this does not even include the actual passport fees. This is just for the supposedly “free” appointment schedule!!! And from what the travel agent told me, P2.500 goes to the DFA employee while the rest they keep. This is blatant corruption!!! If there are, say 30 applicants per hour on an 8-hr day, the corrupt employee is earning about P600,000 per day just blocking a whole day’s appointment in one location! I don’t think though this is just one person but there are many of them inside this government agency. It is very frustrating to know that while Tatay Digong is trying to clean up our government of corruption, this hocus-pocus blatantly exists in the agency where a lot of OFWs will be impacted. It just does not feel right to me that this practice should continue and be tolerated. Garapal ang kasakiman at pangugulang ng mga corrupt sa DFA and I cannot, for my own sanity, just sit down and just let this pass.
While I admit that I had no option but to use the “services”, I am hoping that with this letter, we can push Sec Cayetano to really look much closer into this matter and act on it. The enemy is hiding inside his fortress and he needs to find and eliminate them. If we really want a corrupt-free government, PLEASE help in stopping this practice in DFA.
Thank you very much for your attention and I hope you could help in ensuring this reaches Sec Cayetano.
For my own security, I would appreciate that you do not publish my full name. But just for your benefit that I am not making this up and that I am a real person, you can find my profile in linkedin (OF) – I work for ________, an _______ company and I am one of their executives and also a freqent traveller.
Thanks again and more power to you! God Bless!