ARTA backs DFA's move to stop reserving passport appointments to recruiters

The Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) expressed its support to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in its move to stop reserving passport appointment slots to recruiters, saying this will give every Filipino an equal opportunity to obtain the said document.

Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) Director-General Jeremiah Belgica (Photo from ARTA)

ARTA Director-General Jeremiah Belgica said this after the DFA said it would no longer allot passport appointment slots for recruiters of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) starting March 14.

In a statement, Belgica said the ARTA "supports the decision" of the DFA to stop allocating appointment times to recruiting agencies and resume accepting walk-in passport applications from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) with supporting documents, noting booking slots have become a problem for many applicants over the past few months.

"Obtaining appointment slots at the Department of Foreign Affairs has been a cause for concern in recent months, particularly for ," he said Saturday, March 12.

"There are some people who are taking advantage of the situation by charging a fee to secure an appointment," he added.

In a tweet, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. acknowledged another Twitter user who claimed that travel agencies have all the slots for passport renewal. They are supposedly charging ₱2600 to get an appointment.

"Exactly why I stopped recruitment agency slots and am working closely with my IT to catch more bloodsuckers," he said.

"Passport renewal appointments are FREE," he reminded the public.

Meanwhile, with the new setup, Belgica said getting a passport appointment will be a lot less of a problem for Filipinos, and it will give everyone an equal opportunity.

"Because everyone will have to go through the same process, all will have an equal opportunity," he said.

"It is seen to help address illegal recruiters and scammers who take advantage of OFWs or even the general public with urgent need of their passports for their deployment abroad or transactions abroad," he added.

According to Belgica, the ARTA is continuously working with the DFA to help them make their processes more efficient and improve their services to the public.