MANILA— The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Monday launched its passport on wheels project in Las Pinas, opening at least 2,000 passport application slots to walk-in applicants and those who registered in their respective barangays beforehand.
At present, DFA has four mobile vans equipped with five passport data capture machines. Each van is capable of processing 500 passport applicants.
“We want to utilize this every single day, Monday to Friday,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano told reporters in an interview. “Until the middle of the year, we want to double capacity, from nine thousand a day we want to be able to process 18,000 a day.”
Once this goal is achieved, the official said online passport application waiting time will decrease to at least one month.
Initially, the project is aimed to deliver passport services to different locations in the National Capital Region not currently served by DFA’s six mall-based consular offices.
The passport on wheels will be next introduced in Manila and Clark, Pampanga but Cayetano cleared this will not be exclusive for Luzon. “Next week, we’ll be head to Central Luzon then when we add (units), we will assign exclusively for Visayas and exclusively for Mindanao.”
Registration for the passport on wheels is done through the local government unit upon the announcement of the DFA. Nevertheless, walk-in applicants will also be able to avail this service.
Passport on wheels are manned and operated by trained DFA personnel who will process passports, together with APO Production Unit personnel as encoders.
Present during the event were DFA Assistant Secretary Frank Cimafranca and Senator Cynthia Villar. According to the senator’s office, at least 1,500 applicants were served at the Villar SIPAG center on Monday.
For her part, Villar commended the passport on wheels project, saying it brings the passport processing facility closer to the people.
“It dispenses with the need to schedule an appointment with DFA consular service online to apply for new passports or to renew old ones,” she said. (PNA) By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora