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DFA asked to get rid of fixers, speed up passport processing

The Department of Foreign Affairs Office of Consular Affairs (DFA-OCA) was urged on Saturday to clean up its premises of fixers to speed up passport processing and appointments.

A local recruitment official made the call, adding that the recruitment sector has received numerous complaints from applicants about the long wait in the processing of their appointments and the presence of fixers who are allegedly arranging early appointments for fees ranging from P5,000 to P10,000.

“The industry is demanding that the Office of Consular Affairs (OCA) rid fixers in their premises who may have connections inside, so that online appointments can be fast-tracked for a considerable amount of money,’’ recruitment firm official Emmanuel Geslani told the Manila Bulletin.

“Agency owners have reported to industry meetings that new applicants for passports who have been selected and have applied for early appointments have been approached by fixers asking for a certain amount of money for early appointments,’’ he added.

Just recently, Geslani disclosed that an applicant paid P6,000 and was given an appointment for July 15, while three others who paid P10,000 each have not yet been given appointment schedules.

While he hailed the opening of a Passport Extension Office at the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) building in Mandaluyong City for renewal of passports for re-hires, vacationing workers and seamen, Geslani also lamented the small number of daily applicants processed at the POEA.

“The small quota of only 200 applicants daily at the POEA Passport Extension Office is utterly inadequate to cope with the 750,000 re-hires. Divided into five years that is 150,000 returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) each year who have to renew their passports every time they are in town,’’ he said.

The recruitment sector, said Geslani, also bewails the lack of understanding on the part of OCA to give priority to returning OFWs and those due for deployment.

“OCA personnel do not seem to understand that it will be very difficult for prospective workers to present documents that jobs are waiting for them. Passports are the first document that an OFW needs to present to agencies that will hire them, and this is where the problem lies, the intolerable three-month delay in getting appointments,’’ he said.


Filed under: DFA-advisory, Kwentong OFW, OFW Corner,

DFA to open offices on Saturdays starting July

In a bid to shorten the waiting time for appointments for electronic passports, the Department of Foreign Affairs will open its offices every Saturday starting July.

Office of Consular Affairs (OCA) personnel training for Saturday processing of such appointments is ongoing, according to the DFA.

An article posted on the DFA website said the DFA expects to shorten the waiting time for appointments to three weeks to one month.

OCA is also planning to open more Regional Consular Offices (RCOs) nationwide. The ePassport is already available in 19 RCOs.

It also said a number of Philippine foreign service posts are issuing the ePassport so Filipino workers, or migrants need not come home to have their passports renewed.

These overseas posts include Agana, Brunei Darussalam, Chicago, Doha, Dubai, Hong Kong, Honolulu, Kuala Lumpur, London, Los Angeles, Milan, New York, Osaka, Ottawa, San Francisco, Seoul, Tokyo, Toronto and Washington D.C.

Other foreign service posts are expected to issue the ePassport in due time.

Earlier, the DFA washed its hands off a supposed backlog in its processing of passports, and blamed some applicants’ failure to show up on appointed time for the “delay.”

“It is the waiting time to get an appointment that is longer due to a number of reasons including non-appearance …. Forty percent of individuals who have set appointments do not show up on the designated dates. OCA still accommodates these slots since these were not cancelled by the applicants,” the DFA said.

OCA said passports are released 10 days from application for expedited passports, 20 days for regular processes, and even less than 10 days for emergency cases.

It said the DFA’s processing and releasing time is faster compared to other countries’ passport processes. In the United States, it said passports are released four to six weeks from the date of application.

The OCA urged applicants to appear on their appointment schedules. If unable to show up, they should cancel their appointments earlier so the time slot could be used for other applicants.

Passport extension office

On the other hand, the DFA will re-open the Passport Extension Office (PEO) at the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) to address specific concerns of OFWs who are in Manila to renew their passports immediately to comply with their work contracts’ requirements.

PEO will initially accept 200 applicants daily. Those who cannot be accommodated on a particular day will be given on-the-spot appointment for the succeeding days.

“No prior appointments are required for OFWs applying for passports at the PEO,” the DFA said.

Those who may apply at the PEO include seafarers and sea-based workers and their family members, land-based Balik-Manggagawa (visiting or returning OFWs and their families, and DFA-accredited manning and recruitment agencies.

As a stop-gap measure, OCA is also extending the validity of expiring passports for a maximum period of up to two years.

OCA also attributed the two-month waiting time for appointments to the peak summer season and the huge demand for the Philippine ePassport.

It said that it has been accepting 3,500 applicants daily. The number, however, is expected to go down by July. — LBG, GMANews.TV


Filed under: DFA-advisory, Kwentong OFW, OFW Corner,

Selebrasyon ng kapistahan ni San Pedro at San Pablo

(PIA Sorsogon)

Simple man ang paraan ng pagdiriwang, patuloy pa rin ang gabi-gabing kasiyahan dito sa lungsod ng Sorsogon sa pamamagitan ng beer plaza at nightly band shows na sinimulan noong June 17, kaugnay ng nalalapit na kapistahan ni San Pedro at San Pablo sa darating na Martes sa susunod na linggo.

Pagdating sa mga naghahanap ng murang bilihin, makikita din ang Fiesta Caravan at Baratillo Grande sa isang bahagi ng capitol grounds at sa kanto ng Rizal Street patutungong Sorsogon City Pier.

Sa mga deboto naman, patuloy ang siyam na araw na nobenaryong panata para kay San Pedro at San Pablo.

Deklarado namang official holiday sa araw ng Martes, June 29 bilang pakikiisa ng lungsod sa selebrasyon ng kapistahan ng patron nito.

Filed under: Sorsogon News Updates

Humor in OFW film

WI DING HO, A Malaysian living in Taiwan, successfully captures the hilarious plight of Filipino migrant workers in his film, “Pinoy Sunday.” He got noticed with his short film, “Hu Xi (Respire),” which garnered the Kodak Short Film and Young Critics Awards at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival.

About his latest movie, he shares: “The first time I lived in Taiwan, I had no family, friends and connections. I was looking for a job. I was the same as the Pinoy migrant workers. I sorely missed home.”

The image of Filipinos scavenging for used furniture in the streets was vivid in his mind. “The locals in Taipei don’t do that. They have too many resources. I used the image of two guys carrying a discarded couch as my starting point.” He wrote the story with an Indian writer (Ajay Balakrishnan) based in New York.


“Pinoy Sunday” stars Epy Quizon, Bayani Agbayani, Alessandra De Rossi, Meryll Soriano and Nor Domingo as migrant workers trying to endure loneliness and deportation in Taiwan.

It’s a series of misadventures involving the red couch, as well as a test of friendship for Bayani and Epy as they accidentally run into a drunk motorcycle driver, help a suicidal teen, and escape the wrath of an angry dog.

Bayani’s character is the typical Filipino male – he diligently sends money to his family back home. He’s terrified to lose his job, but is more than willing to have an extramarital affair. Epy is the romantic type who’s desperate to have a woman (De Rossi) in his life. They’re both dreamers who soften the blows of ill fate with humor.

During a screening in Taiwan, Wi noticed a phenomenon among the foreign workers. He relates: “The audience laughed hard when Bayani called his family back home after saying goodbye to his girlfriend [Soriano]. It’s sad, but this is common among migrant workers in Taiwan.”

Family man

How did Wi get his actors? “I refused to watch their past films. I want them to be real, I didn’t want any acting. When I met Bayani in person, he looked like a family man – and that was what I was looking for.”

Was there a communication barrier during the shoot? He replies, “On the set, I tell them what to do. The actors improvise with the dialogue. I don’t understand the language, but I know it works, because when the crew watches the monitor, I see them laughing.” Dialogue is mostly in Tagalog, with some Mandarin.

Wi was in Manila early this week to preview his film. He shares, “We’re looking for distributors. We just don’t want to screen this film at festivals – we plan to have a commercial run here.”

By Rica Arevalo/Philippine Daily Inquirer


Filed under: Kwentong OFW, OFW Corner,

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