THE PHILIPPINE PASSPORT
Under Republic Act No. 8239, also known as the “Philippine Passport Act of 1996,” a Philippine passport is a document issued by the Philippine government to its citizens requesting other governments to allow its citizens to pass freely, and in case of need to give them lawful aid and protection [RA 8239, Sec. (d)].
The acquisition of a Philippine passport is a privilege. The law recognizes the passport applicant’s constitutional right to travel. However, the State is also mandated to protect and maintain the integrity and credibility of the passport and travel documents proceeding from it.
It is a function of Philippine consular officers to pass upon claims for or resolve matters involving Philippine citizenship and, upon determination of such citizenship, to issue an applicant with a Philippine passport. The passport remains a property of the Philippine Government and should be surrendered to the State should it be demanded through a competent Philippine Government official.
Originals and photocopies of the required documents should be submitted upon filing of the application.
Note; Collection of the passport may be delegated to an immediate relative provided there is a letter authorizing the relative to receive the duly-processed passport.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ON THE PHILIPPINE PASSPORT
Q: What is a Philippine Passport?
A: Under Republic Act No. 8239, also known as the “Philippine Passport Act of 1996”, a Philippine passport is a document issued by the Philippine government to its citizens requesting other government to allow its citizens to pass freely, and in case of need, to give them lawful aid and protection. (RA 8239, Sec. 3.d)
Q: Who are entitled to a Philippine passport?
A: Only Filipino citizens are entitled to Philippine passports. Those who have reacquired or retained Philippine citizenship through Republic Act 9225, may apply for Philippine passports upon taking the Oath of Allegiance and after the issuance by the Consular Officer of the Foreign Service Post concerned of the Order of Approval.
Q: Who are authorized to issue a Philippine passport?
A: Only the Secretary of Foreign Affairs or any of his authorized consular officers may issue a Philippine passport. (RA 8239, Sec 4)
Q: Is the acquisition of a Philippine passport a right or a privilege?
A: The acquisition of a Philippine passport is a privilege.
The law recognizes the passport applicant’s constitutional right to travel. However, the State is mandated to protect and maintain the integrity and credibility of passports and travel documents. (D.O. No. 11-97, Art.3)
The Secretary of Foreign Affairs or any of his authorized consular officers may, after due hearing and in their proper discretion, refuse to issue a passport or restrict its use or withdraw or cancel a passport in the interest of national security, public safety or public health. (RA 8239, Sec. 4)
The refusal, however, to issue a passport or the cancellation thereof shall not preclude the issuance of a travel document that will allow the applicant to travel back to the Philippines. (DO No. 11-97, Sec.3)
Q: What are the grounds that will warrant the denial or cancellation of a Philippine passport or the restriction of its use?
A: Denial of issuance of Philippine passport
Under RA 8239, Section 8 (a), the following are the grounds for denial of issuance of a Philippine passport:
1. On order of court, after due notice and hearing, to hold the departure of an applicant because of a pending criminal case
2. When so requested by the natural or legal guardian, if the applicant is a minor
3. When the applicant has been found to have violated any of the provisions of RA 8239
4. Such other disqualifications under existing laws
Under Department Order No. 11-97, the following are the grounds for denial of issuance of a Philippine passport:
a. Article 9, Section 1d – Upon lawful order of the Secretary of Foreign Affairs when he deems it necessary in the interest of national security, public safety or public health.
b. Article 9, Section 1(e) – Upon failure of the applicant to present documentary proof required to verify identity, citizenship and personal circumstances.
Under Memorandum Circular No. 30-96, the following are the grounds for denial of issuance of a Philippine passport:
a. A passport may not be issued to someone who has declared two (2) lost passports consecutively within a two-year period pending an investigation conducted by the Research and Investigation Group (RIG) of the Office of Consular Affairs, Department of Foreign Affairs.
b. In case where three or more passports were declared lost consecutively within a two-year period, no passport shall be issued until the applicant is investigated and cleared by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
Cancellation of Philippine passport
Under RA 8239, Section 8 (b), the following are the grounds for cancellation of a Philippine passport:
1. When the holder is a fugitive from justice
2. When the holder has been convicted of a criminal offense
3. When a passport was acquired by fraudulent means or tampered with
Under Department Order No. 11-97, Article 9 Section 2(c), a Philippine passport may be cancelled upon lawful order from a court to hold the departure of an applicant due to a pending criminal case.
Restriction of use of Philippine passport
Under RA 8239, Section 8 (c), the following are the grounds for the restriction of the use of a Philippine passport:
1. When the country of destination is in a state of political instability which could pose danger to the Filipino traveler
2. When diplomatic ties have been fractured or severed with the Philippines
3. When the country of destination is subject to travel restriction by government policy, enforcement action by the United Nations or in a state of war
Under Department Order No. 11-97, Article 9 Section 3 (d) and (e), the following are the grounds for the restriction of the use of a Philippine passport:
1. When travel has been authorized by competent court or the Office of the President to specified destinations only; or
2. When the applicant’s supporting documents appear inadequate to establish Filipino citizenship and the travel is for urgent medical reason, as certified by a physician, or to attend a seriously ill immediate family member within the second degree of consanguinity or affinity
Frequently Asked Questions on the Philippine ePassport
What is an ePassport?
An ePassport is a passport which features microchip technology. An integrated circuit (chip) within its pages contains the data that are essential in verifying the identity of the passport holder. These data include the personal data found on the data page of the passport, the biometrics of the passport holder, the unique chip identification number, and a digital signature to verify the authenticity of the data stored in the chip.
The chip technology allows the information stored in an ePassport to be read by special chip readers at a close distance.
What are Biometrics?
Biometrics are the unique and measurable physical characteristics of an individual that include face recognition, fingerprints, and iris scans.
The Philippine Electronic Passport (or Philippine ePassport) uses the digital image of the passport photograph that can be used with face recognition technology to verify the identity of the passport holder.
It captures the fingerprints of the passport holder, for identification using the Automated Fingerprint Verification System (AFIS).
What are the special features of the Philippine ePassport?
The Philippine ePassport allows information stored on the chip to be verified with the information visually displayed on the passport.
It uses contactless microchip technology that allows the information stored on the chip to be read by special chip readers at a close distance.
It contains an integrated photograph of the holder, a digitized secondary photo, and an electronic print of the holder’s signature.
It contains overt and hidden security features such as Invisible Personal Information (IPI), letterscreen, microprinting, and UV reactive ink, among others.
What is the difference between the existing maroon machine readable passport (MRP) and the ePassport?
An MRP is a passport that contains a machine-readable zone (MRZ) printed in accordance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standard. It is capable of being read manually and with the use of a machine.
An ePassport has an embedded IC chip where the photograph and personal information of the bearer are stored in accordance with ICAO specifications. These information can be read by chip readers at close distance. An ePassport also contains a machine-readable zone.
What advantages does the Philippine ePassport offer?
The ePassport is highly secure, hence avoids passport reproduction and tampering. The ePassport database is enhanced with AFIS that guards against multiple passport issuances to the same person and enhances imposter detection.
It facilitates fast clearance of travellers at immigration checks.
ePassports provide travellers benefits such as use of automated border clearance or “E-gates”, automated issuance of boarding passes, and faster travel arrangements with airlines.
For countries, the use of electronic passport also provides better border protection and security.
Why do we have to use ePassports now?
The MRP has the minimum ICAO standards in travel documents. The ePassport is the world standard in travel documents. As member of ICAO, the Philippines has an international obligation to enhance the security of its travel documents.
Countries have greater confidence and acceptance of the ePassport since it is enhanced with biometric technology.
Who can avail of the Philippine E-Passport?
The ePassport will initially be made available in limited number. Regular issuance in Manila will start sometime in August 2009 from whence all applicants who can comply with the documentary requirements may avail of the ePassport at the Consular Section of the Department of Foreign Affairs.
How much does an ePassport cost?
The ePassport is available for P950 in the Philippines or US$60 in all Foreign Service Posts. A passport applicant, however, may choose between the ePassport and the less expensive Machine Readable Passport (US$50 in all Foreign Service Posts), both compliant with ICAO standard.
Why is the ePassport more expensive than the current passport?
The added security features of the ePassport are factored into the production cost. Comparative prices of ePassports from different countries, however, show that the cost of the Philippine ePassport is among the lowest in the world.
What other countries use ePassports?
ePassports are already being used in more than 60 countries worldwide. In ASEAN, five countries have already issued ePassports (Singapore, Brunei, Malaysia, Thailand and Cambodia). In the future, all countries are expected to switch to the ePassport due to the increasing need for efficient and better border security.
What is the ePassport logo and what does it mean?
The ePassport logo which appears on the cover of the ePassport is the international symbol for an electronic passport. It means that the passport has an integrated circuit or chip on which data about the passport and passport holder is stored. The logo will alert border inspection lanes at all airports and transit ports equipped with special data readers for ePassports that the passport is an ePassport.
I have a previously issued passport. Can I use it for travel as long as it is still valid?
Yes. Previously issued passports (MRP and non-MRP) are valid until their expiry. It is a good practice to make sure your passport is valid at least six (6) months before intended date of travel to avoid any inconvenience since many countries require that a passport be valid for more than six (6) months for holder to be allowed entry into the country
Will there be additional requirements needed for the processing of ePassports?
None. Essentially, the requirements for ePassport processing will remain the same as that for the MRP. Personal appearance is required for the taking of biometrics (i.e., fingerprints, photo and signature).
Where can I apply for an ePassport?
The ePassport is now available at the Consular Section, DFA Manila. It will be available soon at Philippine Embassies and Consulates abroad and throughout the Philippines through the DFA’s Regional Consular Offices (RCOs).