Monday, November 21, 2016

House sub-group OKs bills to extend passport validity

A technical working group (TWG) of the House committee on foreign affairs has finished consolidating 22 bills all seeking to lengthen the validity of the Philippine passport to 10 years for adults and five years for minors.
Deputy Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who chairs the TWG, approved the proposals to amend Republic Act 8239, otherwise known as the “Philippine Passport Law.” 
Under the proposed amendment, passports of adults or those 18 years old and above will have a 10-year validity while those of minors will remain at five years.
Arroyo clarified it was not the intention of the bills' authors to introduce any other amendment to the existing law, but only to lengthen the passport’s validity.
The lawmaker from Pampanga said the current five-year passport validity “is rather too short given the tedious process and cost it requires to obtain or renew a passport.”
ACTS-OFW Rep. Aniceto Bertiz III and Pangasinan Rep. Leopoldo Bataoil expressed support for the amendment during the TWG meeting.
Under Section 10 of RA 8239, the passport is valid for a period of five years, regardless of the age of the applicant.
With the amendment approved by the TWG, the provision of the said law shall read:
“SECTION 10. Validity. Regular passports issued under this Act shall be valid for a period of five (5) years for minors, ages zero to seventeen (0-17) years old and ten (10) years for adults eighteen (18) years old and above."
The amendment, however, allows the issuing authority to limit the period of validity to less than ten years "whenever in the national economic interest or political stability of the country such restriction is necessary."
The measure also requires the issuing authority to return an old passport to the holder after cancellation and passport renewal.
The present law refers to passport as “a document issued by the Philippine government to its citizens and requesting other governments to allow its citizens to pass safely and freely, and in case of need to give him/her all lawful aid and protection.”
The consolidated bill will be presented to the committee on foreign affairs chaired by Bulacan Rep. Linabelle Ruth Villarica during its next hearing. —KBK, GMA News

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