WHY DFA PASSPORT PROCESSING TOOK SO LONG?
A scam of fixers was discovered after an expert IT team installed a new security feature at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on June 17.
These fixers were notorious for causing delays in placing online appointments for Philippine passports but were curbed by APO Production Unit Inc., the printing facility owned by the government.
It was exposed that these scammers would reserve up to 450 appointment slots for applicants who were in a rush to acquire their travel documents, and they would sell these slots at a minimum of Php5,000.
Prices would vary depending on when the applicants would need them, and earlier appointment dates would mean a more expensive processing fee.
According to Dominic Tajon, APO Production Sales Manager, these fixers were believed to be funded by syndicates and were able to earn up to Php2.5 million through these fraudulent activities.
However, since the DFA has granted APO Production the handling of all end-to-end passport processes, it will be much easier for applicants to set their appointments by September after they have serviced all existing requests.
The newly-installed security system, credited for identifying the scam, was one of the measures taken in preparation for the continuance of electronic passports.
It will be stricter in the probe of all the applicants’ identities, as prescribed by the standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization, an agency of the United Nations.
This new passport replacement will contain a secure and encrypted microchip that will keep track of the passport holder’s particulars.
The newly-designed electronic Philippine passport, whose launch scheduled on August 15, was delayed after the previous company that dealt with processing failed to turn the equipment over.
However, already currently nested at the APO Processing Plant in Malvar, Batangas were the new facilities to be used once APO Production takes over.