DFA to stop reserving passport appointment slots for recruiters--Locsin

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) will no longer allot passport appointment slots for recruiters of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) starting March 14.

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

"Recruiters will no longer be given passport slots. They will have to go online like everyone else," DFA Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said on Twitter Tuesday, March 8.

Locsin was talking about the privilege given to recruitment agencies in securing passport appointment slots, where slots are reserved for their recruits.

This development, however, will not affect OFWs as they will be allowed for walk-in at the DFA Aseana in Parañaque to process their passports.

"This won't affect OFWs. From March 14, OFWs will be able to walk-in with supporting (documents). This should make passport appointments easier and as it should be, absolutely free for all.

This came amid the lingering practice of erring individuals and groups online on charging passport applicants in exchange of an appointment slot, which is actually free of any charge under the DFA system.

The department has been looking into this and has been seeking Facebook's help to take down pages offering such service.

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Brigido Dulay said they have also asked the cybercrime units of both the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to investigate and apprehend the individuals behind the scheme.

In January this year, the DFA bared that more than 13,000 passport appointment slots intended for OFWs were left unused.

Of the passport appointment slots reserved for land-based OFWs and seafarers, only 4.5 percent or 614 slots were used, Dulay said.

The slots were made available due to the clamor of licensed recruitment agencies and manning agencies for their land-based and seafarer OFWs.

READ MORE: DFA exec bares over 13,000 passport appointment slots in January unused