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DFA-Tacloban switches to online system

Tacloban City – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) regional consular office here will strictly implement the online appointment system to make applying for passports easy.

Tacloban City , Leyte Map (Courtesy of Google Maps)

Tacloban City , Leyte Map (Courtesy of Google Maps)

“We are implementing the online appointment system, but we still entertain walk-in applicants because we are on a transition period. We have been encouraging people to get an online appointment because eventually, we will not entertain walk-ins,” said DFA-Tacloban consular head Karen Terado.

Appointments may be obtained by visiting the website: https://www.passport.gov.ph/

Exempted from obtaining online appointments are applicants entitled to the Courtesy Lane – senior citizens, minors aged seven and below, overseas Filipino workers with contracts, and persons with disabilities. The exemption is, however, subject to certain conditions.

“The system aims to make passport application and renewal more efficient. This will address the problem of queuing,” Terado added.

The online system will be fully implemented within the year, according to the official.

But for Eric Lara, 28, of Botaera village in Zumarraga, Samar, the online appointment will not work in their coastal town where there is no computer shop, no Internet connection, where most people are computer illiterate, and mobile phone signals are weak.

Lara left his place at 4 a.m. to take a one-hour boat ride to Catbalogan City. From Catbalogan, he traveled nearly three hours by bus to Tacloban, where the nearest DFA office is located.

He was here three weeks ago, but was told that he needs to submit more requirements.

“I just heard from our neighbors who secured passports a few years back what the basic requirements are, but I found out that I still have to bring more legal identity documents,” said Lara, a carpenter, who wants to obtain a job in Israel.

Accompanied by his wife, Lara has already spent about P4,000 in the processing of requirements, fares, food and even lodging. Since there is only one trip a day to Zumarraga Island, they have to stay overnight in Catbalogan and catch the trip back the next day.

Every day, hundreds of people, mostly prospective overseas workers, show up at the DFA office. They log their names in a book so they could be serviced on a first-come, first-served basis.

Also waiting at the DFA field office was Rowena Sabandal, 32, of Taglibas village in Matalom, a town in Leyte, 169 kilometers south of the regional capital. She left home before sunrise, then took a motorcycle ride to the town center, and a four-hour bus ride to Tacloban.

Sabandal, a single mother, needs a passport so she could be hired as a domestic helper in Saudi Arabia.

She was here last Monday to get her certificate of live birth from the Philippine Statistics Authority’s regional office and a National Bureau of Investigation clearance.