Amid the Department of Foreign Affairs’ (DFA) passport appointment woes, Foreign Affairs chief Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Saturday, July 17, admitted that the agency has a backlog of three million passports.
His admission came after a netizen on Twitter with the handle @chinelas said that he was able to secure an appointment slot at the DFA’s Aseana branch only after doing multiple refresh of the web page and selecting different sites “to get my luck.”
“You got it. We have a backlog of 3 (expletive) million passports,” Locsin said in his reply.
The Twitter user cited it was so difficult to get an appointment slot since the calendar on the appointment system says that the slots are full until December 2021.
He said this as a reply to Locsin’s belying his earlier tweet that said slots for passport renewal is full until next year.
In the earlier tweet, the DFA secretary said the report was “not true,” and it was being “spread by scammers selling fake appointments.”
Weeks ago, the DFA warned the public against advertisements on social media that offer passport slots and fake or tampered appointment documents in exchange for money.
This was after several applicants arrived at the DFA with fake or tampered appointment documents. They said they got the documents from people on social media selling passport appointment slots.
Getting passport appointments has become a real problem for the public because the DFA’s consular offices in the region, which are mostly inside malls, have to cease operations because of the restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
There are only limited passport appointment slots available in the still consular sites in the National Capital Region (NCR).
Early this July, to address the lack of appointment slots, the DFA opened five temporary offsite passport services. That equaled to an additional 177,500 slots in its appointment system until the end of September 2021.
The five offsite passport offices are at the SM Mall of Asia, SM City North Edsa, SM Aura, Robinsons Place Las Piñas, and Robinsons Place Magnolia.
Each site has a capacity to process 500 appointments per day. It will be operational from Monday to Saturday.