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.
By SHIANEE MAMANGLU/MANILA BULLETIN