A migrant rights group today urges the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to re-examine the terms and conditions of its contract with Oberthur Technologies, the foreign equipment provider in the production of passport booklets.
On Thursday, the DFA issued a statement confirming that 'the delay is caused by an unexpected malfunction of the mainframe program which has prevented the printing of passport booklets".
"The instant effect of the mainframe program glitch is obviously a delay in the printing of passport booklets aside from the inconvenience to passport applicants. But more than this, the terms and conditions of the contract must be revisited as there maybe corresponding penalty imposed to the contractor in cases it hampered the production of passport booklets resulting to failure to deliver its commitment," said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.
Monterona said the passport services are not merely a business transaction between the DFA and its foreign contractor; "It is also a delivery of public service to those who are longing to get a passport, new or renewal," he added.
'With an increase schedule of rates in getting passport as implemented by the DFA last year, the public is expecting better services such as fast and prompt application process and releases of passports," Monterona averred.
Monterona expressed serious concern that the passport machine glitch will also affect the production or passport booklets for OFWs who have applied in various PH posts abroad.
"We have been told during Embassy-on-Wheels (EOW) passporting, the passport applications from abroad will be sent to DFA consular office in Manila for production and printing, but since there was a machine glitch then obviously its production will be delayed too," Monterona added.
Passport renewal fee being collected by various PH posts abroad is about tripled higher than that in the DFA Consular office which got the ire of OFWs.
"Passport renewal for instance in Saudi Arabia will cost an OFW 240 Saudi riyals equivalent to P2,760 (1:11.5 riyal-peso current conversion); while if one would intend to renew passport in DFA Consular office in Manila, it's only about P950 or a little more," Monterona noted.