- Gov’t uncovered syndicate fixing the schedules for online passport applications
- Fixers block the application slots, then sell them off at P5,000 each to desperate buyers
- Gov’t-owned printing facility to process passports from start to finish to curb the scam
MANILA, Philippines – Now it can be told why online appointments for passports can take as long as three months to secure.
According to the government-owned printing facility APO Production Unit, Inc., information technology experts working on the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA)’ online passport application uncovered a syndicate of fixers who would block application slots and sell them off starting at P5,000 each — the faster the processing time, the higher the price.
The fixers were estimated to be earning as much as P2.5 million selling off these slots to buyers desperate to get their passports quickly.
However, APO’s sales manager Dominic Tajon said that the problem is about to be solved because of the DFA’s deal allowing APO to process the passport applications from start to finish.
“The days of fixers are numbered because the Department of Foreign Affairs has allowed APO Production to handle the end-to-end passport processing in the next two months,” he told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Tajon said the public can expect faster processing times starting September when the new system has been set in place.
“A new security system has been installed last June 17 that scrutinizes the identity of applicants,” he said.
For their part, the DFA also promised to take steps to better guard the security of their online applications.
“In Aseana, we will also see considerable improvement in getting online appointments once measures we’ve instituted a month or so ago start taking effect in August and September,” DFA spokesman Charles Jose said.