PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has signed into law bills extending the validity of Philippine passports and driver’s licenses to 10 years and five years, respectively.
Republic Act (RA) 10928 and RA 10930, two laws that Duterte promised would be passed within his term, were signed on Wednesday.
RA 10928 amends Section 10 of RA 8239 or the Philippine Passport Act of 1996, extending the validity of regular passports to 10 years from five years. But for individuals under 18 years of age, passports will only be valid for five years.
The law also states that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), as the passport-issuing authority, can choose to limit passport validity to less than 10 years “whenever in the national economic interest or political stability of the country such restriction is necessary.”
The law also mandates the DFA to issue implementing rules and undertake reforms to make the passport processing system “seamless, convenient and pro-people,” and to make the production and security of passports at par with technological advances and world standards.
RA 10930 extends the validity of driver’s licenses to five years from three years, reckoned from the birth date of the licensee.
The law also mandates the Land Transportation Office (LTO) to adopt measures to prevent the alteration or falsification of a license, as well as detect unauthorized driver’s licenses.
The LTO is required to implement an online process for the renewal of professional and non-professional licenses within a year after the enactment of RA 10930.
The extension, however, does not apply to student permits.
“Except for student permits, all drivers’ licenses shall be valid for five years reckoned from the birth date of the licensee, unless sooner revoked or suspended,” the new law states.
It also states that any holder of a professional or non-professional driver’s license who has not violated the Land Transportation and Traffic Code or any other traffic law, rule and regulation during the five-year period, will be entitled to a renewal of such license for 10 years, subject to restrictions imposed by the LTO.
Thus, “theoretical and practical examinations” must “sufficiently measure the competency of drivers,” the new law states.
A person who applies for a license and is found to have falsified documents, cheated in the driving test, or connived with a government officer will be fined P20,000.
Duterte also signed into law a measure offering free internet access in public places.
RA 10929, titled “Free Internet Access in Public Places Act,” aims to “promote knowledge-building among citizens and enable them to participate in the evolving information and communication age.”
The public will be able to access free internet connections in “national and local government offices; public basic education institutions; state universities and colleges, and technology institutions; public hospitals, health centers, and rural health units; public parks, plazas, libraries and barangay (village) reading centers; public airports and seaports; and public transport terminals.”
No fees will be collected.
RA 10929 designates the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) as the lead agency in the implementation of the law.
The service forbids access to pornographic websites.
The DICT, in coordination with the Inter-Agency Council Against Child Pornography and in consultation with telecommunications companies, is tasked to draw up standards and mechanisms for the protection of children online.
The DICT can form partnerships with the private sector to promote an “efficient and cost-effective” delivery of free internet access in public places. It prohibits preferential treatment to a single firm to prevent restrictions to internet access.
Those who will violate the law will be subject to administrative penalties.