• Longer passport validity eyed

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    Senate bills extending the validity of a driver’s license from three years to five years and that of a Philippine passport from five years to 10 years have been filed in the chamber..

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    Sen. Ralph Recto, author of the bills,  said in a statement that “lengthening the expiry date of these two important documents” will spare the holder of the hassle of applying for their renewal.

    “This is a commonsensical anti-red tape measure which should have been done a long time ago,” he added.

    In his bill extending the validity of a license to operate a motor vehicle, Recto sought amendments to Republic Act (RA) 4136 and Batas Pambansa 398, which constitutes the nation’s Land Transportation and Traffic Code.

    The five-year validity, however, will not,  apply to student permits and new licenses.

    “Except for student permits and new licenses, all driver’s licenses shall be valid for five consecutive years reckoned from the birth date of the licensee, unless sooner revoked or suspended,” Recto’s proposed amendment read.

    “This is not an unconditional permit to drive for five years. Rules allow for early disenfranchisement if the holder is a serial violator of traffic rules,” he said.

    With the Land Transportation Office, the agency that issues licenses to drivers, “saddled with a myriad of problems,” Recto noted, “minimizing the frequency of the public’s transactions with the LTO will dramatically reduce red tape and promote ease in doing business in that image.”

    In a separate measure, Recto wants Section 10 of RA 8239, or the Philippine Passport Act of 1996, amended so that the validity period of a Philippine passport will be lengthened to 10 years.

    In his bill’s explanatory note, he specifically cited the inconveniences experienced by overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in securing a passport.

    “Most OFWs are allowed to return to the Philippines from two weeks to a month while the processing of applications and renewal of passports can take from ten to fifteen days, not including the waiting period for an appointment, “ the senator said.

    “This might be too short a time for OFWs to secure new passports. Many spend their entire vacation in queues for multiple government-issued permits needed for their employment,” he added.

    While the bill extends the expiry of a passport to a decade, it will not, however, apply to minors as international conventions require that they be issued five-year passport becuas physical appearance of children could change substantially within that period.

    The proposal also grants the Foreign Affairs secretary the right to limit the validity of a passport to less than 10 years if he deems that national security, public safety or public health or whenever the applicant’s supporting documents appear inadequate.

    For this year, the Department of Foreign Affairs is expected to collect P4.6 billion from passport processing.

    The LTO on the other hand is expected to collect P1.47 billion from the driver’s licenses that it would issue this year.

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