Monday, July 19, 2010

DFA Quashes Attempts to Sabotage Online Appointment System

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has successfully quashed attempts to sabotage the online appointment system, resulting in earlier appointments for non-OFW (overseas Filipino worker) passport applicants.

DFA Office of Consular Affairs (OCA) Assistant Secretary Jaime Victor Ledda disclosed that the earliest appointment for non-OFWs is now down to less than a month.

Non-OFW applicants who were previously given appointments for September have the option to request for an earlier appointment.

"We are now down to less than a month and our goal is to improve it further," he said.

Complementing this is the increase in the passport production capability of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) on a daily basis to between 10,000 and 12,000. This is a significant improvement from the 3,000 passports produced daily at the start of the ePassport project in 2009.

"The improvement can be attributed to a number of factors. We have been provided the necessary personnel required in the operation of equipment and we have trained enough personnel over the past months. We have also gotten the additional equipment needed," Assistant Secretary Ledda explained.

He added that the DFA and the BSP are targeting to process and issue 15,000 passports a day once the ePassport project is fully implemented worldwide.

The DFA found that a number of individuals and groups hoping to earn money by victimizing passport applicants have been making multiple appointments online and thus, creating an artificial demand for appointments.

"There have been serious attempts to sabotage the system but we have overcome it," Assistant Secretary Ledda said.

He noted that for the past weeks, non-appearance among those who have set appointments online jumped to 40 percent.

Assistant Secretary Ledda said that OCA, in coordination with its information technology partner Teleserv, has already identified these so-called "online fixers" and a technical solution was used to address the problem.

With the cooperation of the Philippine National Police, the National Bureau of Investigation, and the Paranaque Police, the DFA is also cracking down on fixers approaching passport applicants outside the DFA-OCA building at the ASEANA Business Park in Paranaque.

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