“Ma’am, huwag kayo maniwala sa mga sinasabi ng mga buang na ‘yan (Ma’am, don’t believe a word those crazy people are saying).” With an exasperated look, the manong guard addressed my worried question if it was indeed true that the DFA’s electronic encoding machines were out of order. Well, I guess I wasn’t the first one to complain.
My question stemmed from the fact that fixers tried to coerce me to have my picture taken at their office. This after berating them: no, I am getting an ePassport and no, I don’t need printed photos for the application form.
In their desperate attempt to fool a customer, they resorted to saying that the ePassport encoding machines were down and out for the next two weeks, so my only recourse was to get an MRP. Being the “calm” monster that I am, I counted ‘til 20 (beyond the usual 10), before I blurted: it’s okay, I’m not in a hurry to renew my passport and that I’ll just set another appointment.
This occurred while I was a mere few meters away from the DFA entrance. I wonder why these opportunists are not being penalized and banned by the Department. They even have the audacity to wear IDs to make them look legitimate.
I pity those who are easily swayed by their persuasive and fraudulent deeds.
On the plus side, I’m starting to love the GRP’s initiatives to digitize and to make accessible the renewal of government documents. I mean, who doesn’t fancy the LTO’s Driver’s License Renewal Centers located in SM malls? No lines and a new license card in 30 minutes. Now, here comes the internet appointment system of DFA. Fast processing and short queuing in 15 minutes (and if you know me, you’ll know I mooove slowly).
The ePassport project is part of the DFA’s modernization program that started in 2007, with the launch of the Machine-Readable Passport (MRP). Launched late 2009, the biometric passport has advanced security features which costs only Php950.00 (versus the MRP priced at Php500.00). Both are compliant with international standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization, of which our beloved country is a member.