DFA officially removes birth certificate requirement for passport renewals

January 16, 2019 - 2:22 PM
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Passport controversy Interaksyon
A maroon Philippine passport (Interaksyon/file photo)

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. signed an order yesterday that made official one of his tweets saying the submission of birth certificates for passport renewals is no longer required.

He posted on Twitter a photo of the signed document that removes the birth certificate from the list of requirements in renewing passports.

DFA Assistant Secretary Elmer Cato earlier announced that those seeking to renew their passports need to submit birth certificates as a workaround for the alleged loss of passport data.

Malacañang, however, questioned this step and pointed out that it is an additional burden to Filipinos.

Locsin then agreed with this as part of his replies to inquiries on Twitter. “I believe that if you have an old passport whatever vintage you can get it renewed on the strength of presenting it to DFA.”

The newly signed policy order states that “the presentation of birth certificate in the application for the renewal of passport shall not be required.”

This applies to those renewing brown (issued before May 1, 1995) or green passports (issued after May 1, 1995) and “machine-readable” maroon passports (issued in 2007).

However, this excludes the following cases:

  1. First-time applicants
  2. Renewal applications for lost and mutilated passports
  3. Renewal applications requiring changes in the passport entries
  4. Renewal applications of old brown and green passports bearing no complete middle name
  5. Applicants included in the Department’s Watchlist

It also excludes individuals with dual citizenship who still need to present either an authenticated birth certificate or a report of birth, and original identification certificate issued by the Philippine Foreign Service Post or the Bureau of Immigration.

Locsin earlier claimed as a response to another Twitter user that a former private contractor “took away” all the passport data at the Department of Foreign Affairs. This contractor was later identified as French firm Francois-Charles Oberthur Fiduciare or FCOC.

He then backtracked and said that the data was “inaccessible” rather than stolen.

The National Privacy Commission is currently investigating the matter.

Inaccessible data?

In another series of responses to tweets, Locsin clarified that it’s not possible for data to be stolen contrary to his earlier allegation.

“Data is not run-away-able but made inaccessible. Access denied,” he said.

This concurred with ex-DFA Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr.’s statement that the data could not have been stolen because the deal with FCOC ended way back in June 2016.

Yasay also said that Locsin may have been “misinformed.” Locsin soon reacted and said that he was not misinformed but rather “lacks information” on the agency’s anomalous contracts.

The data, meanwhile, is accessible to the current contractor, APO Production Unit Inc. or APUIC. Parts of the data were also corrupted.

Locsin also kept emphasizing in retweets that the lost information is no longer useful.

“Although APO assured me yesterday they were able to access it though the data is of not much use now,” he said.

In another separate tweet, the country’s top diplomat said that APUIC assured him that there’s no leakage so far.

“No leak so far. But the data is possibly hopelessly corrupted and at any rate inaccessible now or we are being lied to as usual,” Locsin said.

Meanwhile, APUIC Chairperson Michael Dalumpines said that FCOC has fully turned over all the printing machines with the data when the latter’s contract was over.

“Walang problema eh. Nagkaroon lang ng issue kasi nagpalit ng contractor. Walang leak, walang kaming nakikita… Walang natangay. Mali nga siguro, baka na-misundertood lang si Secretary Locsin,” Dalumpines said.