Locsin facilitates passports of far-away applicants

Published January 24, 2021, 10:10 PM

by Roy Mabasa

Having a hard time securing an online appointment slot to apply for a Philippine passport anywhere in the world? Try seeking the help of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. via Twitter and be among the many lucky netizens who got instant assistance. 

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. (PCOO / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Chances are, Locsin or whoever is handling the DFA secretary’s busy Twitter account, will be online to respond with dispatch to your problem or query regarding passport appointment.

Take the case of this lady netizen who is currently in China. She sought the help of Locsin at noon on Sunday after she postponed her trip to Beijing to renew her soon-to-expire passport. She said just to go to either Beijing or Shanghai where the Philippine Embassy and a Consulate are located already poses a big challenge considering the strict COVID-19 travel restrictions there.

To which Locsin replied: “Of course you can renew your passport; that’s why the DFA exists and gets Php24.1 billion a year; it’s not because we’re good-looking; so send in your application. Tweet if have problems.”

In a separate post, Locsin told the lady netizen to “give us your details, DM (direct message). I will follow you.”
This is not the first time that a netizen directly asked for Locsin’s intervention with regards to consular problems. 

Many Filipinos in various parts of the world have been airing varying complaints on various social media platforms regarding their difficulties accessing consular-related services from Philippine embassies and consulates.

In a Twitter post on Sunday, a Filipino netizen from Dublin asked Locsin to add consular services in their area, saying that it creates too much hassle and becomes costly if they travel to London just to renew their passports. 

Another Filipino national from Los Angeles also echoed the call for the DFA to increase the capacity of its consulates in the United States and Canada.
“Getting an appointment for dual citizenship and passport application is like winning a lottery. Never been so convenient despite all the technological advancement Philippine system got stuck in a time capsule,” said the netizen.

“Gaye” (not her real name), a 50-year-old Filipina immigrant also from Los Angeles, told the Manila Bulletin that she had been continuously booking an appointment to renew her passport through the Consulate’s online scheduling platform since October, 2020 but remain unsuccessful until today. 

On December 15, 2020, the Philippine Consulate in Los Angeles notified the public through its portal that passport and dual citizenship appointment slots for January and February 2021 have already been filled up. 
Availability of appointment slots for March 2021 onwards, according to the Philippine Consulate-Los Angeles “shall be opened by 15 February 2021.”
Even in Metro Manila local passport applicants have been encountering issues on the availability of nearest dates and consular locations notwithstanding the creation of several consular offices situated inside popular malls.  

A check with the DFA’s online passport platform showed that the next available date for an individual application is on March 23, 2020. And the slot disappeared quickly like the proverbial “hotcakes.”