SEN. Maria Josefa Imelda "Imee" Marcos on Wednesday sponsored a bill allowing the non-appearance of senior citizens and migrant workers in consular offices abroad when renewing their passports.

Senate Bill (SB) 2001, which repeals the "Philippine Passport Act of 1996" (RA) 8239, will provide for a more simplified passport application process while maintaining the security and integrity of the Philippine passport.

"With advancements in technology, there is a need to bring forth a new generation of passports," said Marcos, chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

Under SB 2001, senior citizens and migrant workers abroad will be allowed to renew their passports "without needing to physically appear before the consular offices."

Get the latest news
delivered to your inbox
Sign up for The Manila Times’ daily newsletters
By signing up with an email address, I acknowledge that I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

It also empowers the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) "to modify the present requirement of personal appearance for first-time passport applicants whenever technologies are available."

A "conventional travel document" may be issued to "stateless persons who are likewise permanent residents of the Philippines and refugees who have been granted such status or asylum" in the country.

Diplomatic passports will be issued to former Senate presidents; speakers of the House of Representatives; justices of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Sandiganbayan; members of Congress; Senate secretary and secretary-general of the HoR; and secretaries of all departments of the Executive branch.

SB 2001 also requires the creation of a "watchlist database" on persons whose passport applications have been denied or whose passports have been canceled, as well as those who tried to violate the passport law.

It will harmonize with RA 10173 or the "Data Privacy Act of 2012," RA 11055 or the "Philippine Identification System or PhilSys Act of 2018," RA 11767 or the "Foundling Recognition and Protection Act," and RA 11641 or the "Department of Migrant Worker's Act."

"The concept of consular offices will be expanded to institutionalize the temporary offsite passport services currently offered by the DFA nationwide," Marcos said.

Sen. Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr., who co-sponsored SB 2001, said the measure responds to the changing times, especially with the spread of new technology.

"Through this proposed measure, we recognize that we are now living in this digital era, which all the more ensures accessibility and convenience in the application processes," Revilla said.

"This is important especially for our fellow OFWs who consider their passports as the key to a more comfortable life," he said.