Home PHL News PBBM Signs New Law to Revolutionize Philippine Passport Application Process

PBBM Signs New Law to Revolutionize Philippine Passport Application Process

PBBM Signs New Law to Revolutionize Philippine Passport

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has taken a significant step towards modernizing the passport application process in the Philippines with the signing of Republic Act (RA) 11983, also known as the New Philippine Passport Act. The new law, signed on March 11, aims to bring Philippine passports in line with international standards and make the application process more accessible to a wider range of individuals.

RA 11983 replaces the Philippine Passport Act of 1996 (RA 8239) and introduces several key changes to streamline the passport application process. Communication Secretary Cheloy Garafil highlighted the provisions of the new law in a statement released on Friday. Notably, the law authorizes the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to provide offsite and mobile passport services, extending the reach of passport application services beyond consular offices and foreign service posts. This development will greatly benefit senior citizens, persons with disabilities (PWDs), and overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) by making passport application services more accessible in their respective locations.

In addition, the new law mandates the DFA to accommodate the applications of several groups, including senior citizens, PWDs, pregnant women, minors aged 7 years and below, solo parents, OFWs, and individuals with emergency and exceptional cases. This provision recognizes the diverse circumstances of these individuals and ensures that their passport application process is facilitated accordingly.

To further enhance convenience and efficiency, the law requires the DFA to establish an electronic one-stop shop on its website. This digital platform will simplify the application process, allowing applicants to easily submit their requirements online.

Furthermore, the new law introduces a notable change regarding the issuance of passports to government officials and employees. Under RA 11983, these individuals, as well as their family members, will be allowed to hold two passports simultaneously. Regular passports, as explained by Garafil, are intended for Filipino citizens who are not eligible for diplomatic or official passports and are traveling abroad for personal reasons.

To deter illegal activities related to passport forgery, withholding, and improper use, the law specifies prohibitions and penalties. Offenders who confiscate, retain, or withhold a passport issued by the DFA without legal authority may face imprisonment of not less than 12 years and a fine ranging from PHP1 million to PHP2 million. For passport forgery, the penalties include imprisonment for 6 to 15 years and a fine of not less than PHP100,000 but not more than PHP250,000. Similar penalties are established for offenses related to improper passport use and other travel documents.

In cases involving unfair and discriminatory practices committed by DFA officers during passport issuance, the law outlines penalties such as suspension, dismissal from service, a fine of up to PHP250,000, and a maximum prison term of six years.

It is important to note that the Palace has not yet released a copy of RA 11983. However, Garafil stated that the new passport law will take effect 15 days after its publication in either the Official Gazette or a newspaper of general circulation.

The signing of Republic Act 11983 represents a significant milestone in the Philippines’ efforts to modernize and streamline its passport application process. The new law demonstrates the government’s commitment to making passport services more accessible and efficient for all citizens, particularly those with special circumstances. With the introduction of offsite and mobile passport services, the establishment of an electronic one-stop shop, and the implementation of stricter penalties for passport-related offenses, the New Philippine Passport Act paves the way for a more convenient and secure passport application experience.