MANILA, Philippines - An ongoing legal row will not stop the government from implementing its program to make and issue machine-readable passports, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Thursday.
In a statement on its website, the DFA reaffirmed the validity, security and integrity of the machine-readable passports (MRP) now being issued to Filipino nationals.
"All of the DFA's actions with respect to the MRP and the e-Passport project are supported by and consistent with pertinent laws, the facts on record, and by official Opinions of the Department of Justice, the Department of Finance and the Department of Trade and Industry," it said.
The DFA noted former project company BCA Corp. had questioned the termination of its build-operate-transfer agreement on the machine-readable passports before a Pasig court.
But the case was elevated to the Supreme Court after the Pasig court issued an injunction. The high court restrained BCA and the trial court from conducting further proceedings in the case.
"The right to implement the MRP Project which BCA claims is therefore sub judice," the DFA said.
In the meantime, the department is set to address the immediate need of Filipinos everywhere for secure travel documents that comply with international standards. The DFA began issuing Machine Readable Passports in 2007 and worked towards the implementation of the e-Passport project with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.
"Even with the significant enhancement of security features in the Machine Readable Passports issued by the DFA, there has been no price increase for the public from the previous manually-scripted green passports. The regular price for a Machine Readable Passport remains P500, the same as the old green passport," it noted.
The DFA also said that since it began issuing machine-readable passports and worked towards the implementation of the e-Passport project, more than a million Filipinos have received their new passports.
It said these Filipinos are no longer segregated at airports or otherwise discriminated against because of inferior travel documents.
"As a result of the DFA's Machine Readable Passports, our kababayans now have greater travel security, confidence and convenience all over the world," it said.
Besides, it said the passports are "produced in full accord with the Government Procurement Reform Act and other relevant statutes and regulations, and are more secure, globally accepted and compliant with standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)." -GMANews.TV