Philippine passport
A Dubai-based Filipina shows her passport. A new, long-overdue law (Act No. 11983) mandates the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to make the passport application process more convenient for Filipinos via the DFA website. Image Credit: Facebook | File

Manila: President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has recently approved a progressive passport law aimed at modernising the application process while ensuring accessibility for various demographics such as senior citizens, persons with disabilities, and overseas Filipino workers.

Here's what you need to know:

#1. Online submissions

Republic Act 11983, enacted on March 11, 2024, mandates the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to establish an online application platform accessible through its official website. This initiative seeks to enhance convenience and simplify the submission of requirements.

#2. Offsite, mobile passport application

Additionally, the New Philippine Passport Act, which supersedes RA 8239, empowers the DFA to extend passport services beyond consular offices and foreign posts, including offsite and mobile setups.

#3. Special lanes

The law introduces specialised processing lanes for specific groups, including senior citizens, persons with disabilities, pregnant women, minors under 7 years old, solo parents, overseas Filipino workers, and individuals with urgent cases. Moreover, accommodations will be provided for Muslim Filipinos participating in the annual Hajj pilgrimage, as requested by the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos.

#4. Privileges for government officials | employees

Regular passports, issued to Filipino citizens not eligible for diplomatic or official passports, are addressed in the legislation. Notably, government officials and employees, accompanied by their families, may possess two passports concurrently during their tenure.

#5. Penalties for flouting law: 6 years in jail

Stringent penalties are outlined for unlawful passport activities, such as unauthorized confiscation or forgery. Those found guilty may face imprisonment ranging from 6 to 15 years, with fines ranging from 100,000 to 2 million pesos, as detailed by the Presidential Communications Office.

Furthermore, unfair practices in passport issuance are subject to severe consequences, including suspension, dismissal, fines up to 250,000 pesos, and imprisonment up to six years.

The new Philippine e-passport. The booklets also carry cultural and geographical information about the Philippines. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

#6. Modernisation drive

The new law endeavours to modernise passport procedures, prioritise inclusivity, and deter illicit activities related to passport issuance and usage.

RA 8239, which repeals the Philippine Passport Act of 1996, aims to develop a new generation of Philippine passports at par with international standards. The new law also provides for facilitating passport applications for Muslim Filipinos joining the annual Hajj pilgrimage, simplifies and eases online applications for regular passports, especially for some individuals, including senior citizens, persons with disabilities (PWDs), and overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).703b04ff-8ee7-4d65-a63b-ddae56b2bdf5