MANILA – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Monday has opened several temporary off-site passport service (TOPS) sites to help address the current backlog and satisfy the country’s increasing demand for passport processing.
In a virtual briefing, DFA Undersecretary Brigido Dulay said these TOPS sites are already in operation and are located at SM Mall of Asia, SM City North Edsa, SM Aura, Robinsons Place Las Piñas, and Robinsons Place Magnolia.
“Those are the five temporary offsite passport services locations where we will come up with additional slots all the way to September, from Mondays to Saturdays,” Dulay said.
In total, he said these temporary sites are expected to add an additional 177,000 passport application slots until September -- each able to process 500 appointments daily.
He said there are plans to open more sites outside Metro Manila -- in Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal.
“This will resolve the current backlog and address the high demand for passports,” Dulay said.
For senior citizens, pregnant women, overseas Filipino workers, solo parents, or persons with disabilities who need assistance in the processing of their passports, he said all TOPS sites, as well as other consular sites, are open for a personal visit.
He noted that they may also send their request through email at email@example.com.
“You can actually go to the TOPS site, any site pwede naman (is fine). If in the alternative, they would also like to make an urgent request or anything that is not available for a TOPS site, they can email us,” Dulay said.
He also warned the public against scammers who offer passport application slots online for a price, especially on social media.
“We have constantly and consistently warned the public not to fall for these scams because hindi ito kilala (these are not known). Madali magtago sa internet, mawala na lang, hindi na mahahabol itong mga 'to. Iligal itong mga 'to (It’s easy to hide in the internet, once they disappear, they won’t be found. These are illegal),” Dulay said.
He noted that the DFA has requested the assistance of the cybercrime units of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in investigating these illegal activities.
He said that those who have trouble filling out or processing their own passport appointment should seek help from friends or family, not from online scammers or travel agencies.
“’Wag na kayo pumunta sa iba dahil libre naman (Don’t go to other people because it’s already free). They don't need to go anywhere else just www.passport.gov.ph,” Dulay said.
To date, he said the DFA can process about 6,167 passport applications daily compared to 13,000 before the pandemic.
The reduced capacity, he said, was the result of a reduction in the walk-in applicant capacity and workforce in DFA consular offices since the pandemic. (PNA)