Press Release
March 18, 2007


Tired of being made to wait in another line because of the primitive state of your Philippine passport?

Senator Mar Roxas said Filipino travelers including overseas Filipino workers would soon have access to world-class passports within the year under the Department of Foreign Affairs E-Passport Program.

This is a relief considering the humiliation that comes with having to answer so many questions and be made to line up in a different counter just because of our outdated passports, Roxas stressed, adding that the new passports will go a long way in enhancing the countrys image.

The senator also expressed optimism that the Philippines will meet the international deadline for machine-readable passports on April 1, 2010 with the Supreme Courts decision to lift the TRO on the E-Passports Project of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA). I am glad that the Supreme Court has acted favorably on the DFAs petition, he said. A few days ago, Senator Roxas issued an urgent appeal to the SC calling for the lifting of the TRO.

Roxas , chairman of the Senate committee on economic affairs, said that the Supreme Courts ruling allows the Philippines to catch up with 95% of countries in the world that have machine-readable passports.

From Jurassic Age to the Matrix Era, that is how much we will leapfrog into the future with these modern passports, Senator Roxas quipped. The e-passports will contain enhanced security features with an embedded IC chip that would help eliminate passport tampering.

Based on a briefing for the senator held yesterday at the DFA, the e-passports will have more pages, from the present 32 to 44, and will be processed and released at a faster time.

The senator, accompanied by Acting Foreign Affairs Secretary Rafael Seguis and Assistant Secretary Doy Lucenario, made a walk-through at the Office of Consular Affairs were passport applications are received and acted upon.

Roxas noted the primitive way of scripting the present passports and manually attaching photos to the data page. No wonder the international community view our travel documents with suspicion. It is so easy to tamper with our current passports.

The senator said illegal recruiters have mastered the art of passport tampering thus endangering the lives and welfare of their victims.

Roxas pointed out that the additional security features and more effective data retrieval and storage under the E-Passports Program are more effective tools against terrorism.

More than the Anti-Terror Law, modernizing our passports is a concrete step towards protecting our national security without any diminution of our civil liberties, he said.

The e-passports will come out towards the third quarter of the year and will sport a maroon color.

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