MANILA – Two new temporary offsite passport service (TOPS) offices in Metro Manila and another one in Lipa were opened to cater to simple passport renewals, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) announced Tuesday.
The new TOPS located in Robinsons Novaliches, Robinsons Lipa and SM Manila raise to 13 the total number of temporary hubs the agency established amid the increase in demand for passport services during the pandemic.
“In keeping with the instructions of Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. to increase the number of appointment slots available to the public, DFA-OCA (Office of Consular Affairs) tweaked the design of these and succeeding TOPS to put a premium on the speed of transaction, as only by ensuring a faster turn-around time per applicant can we have increased capacity per day,” Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Senen Mangalile said.
As the new sites can only accommodate renewals, the DFA said more complicated transactions such as new or lost passport applications and those that require changes in the holder’s personal details would be handled by the nearest supervising consular offices (COs).
Appointments to any of these sites may be booked only at http://www.passport.gov.ph.
Mangalile led the launches and was joined by supervising heads Emmanuel Arbado of CO NCR North, Ramon Nerida of CO NCR West, and Jose Christian Palillo of CO Lipa.
The pandemic has severely affected the country’s passport operations as restrictions and a series of outbreaks within consular offices forced the DFA to work at reduced capacity.
The DFA opened its six initial TOPS last July, making available an additional 2,500 passport slots per day.
Passport appointment issues
In a statement, the DFA vowed to resolve the issues on the booking of passport appointments and applicants’ non-receipt of confirmation emails which contain the application packet.
“The DFA-OCA is aiming to send out all application packets of those who have appointments this week within the day,” it said.
For applications scheduled from the week of November 21, the DFA said confirmation emails may take at least two days due to congestion in the system.
The delay, according to DFA, is likely caused by the overloading of servers, compounded by the late remittance of payments made through the over-the-counter payment mode.
It noted that only booked appointments that were successfully paid online will be confirmed and will receive the application packets. If no proof of payment or payment reference code was received, this means that there is no confirmed appointment.
“Applicants who have successfully booked and paid for their appointments but are yet to receive their confirmation emails are advised to regularly check their email inboxes, including spam or junk folders. They may also send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to follow up,” the DFA said. (PNA)