Passport Renewal: Path to Patience

7 Dec

December 4, 2010. I’m inside the new Department of Foreign Affairs building along Macapagal Highway and I’m bored. My passport renewal schedule was at 1:30pm and I arrived at 1:00pm (Wow, di ako late?!) It took me a little over an hour to get my papers assessed. Another 5 minutes on the cashier (would’ve been longer have I not sneaked into the senior citizen’s lane… unintentionally) and almost 4 hours on the encoding and picture taking. All in all it took me close to 5 hours just to get my passport renewed. Don’t you just love government offices?

Still, its a major improvement compared to 3 to 4 years ago. Back then, government office would be crawling with fixers. They’ll be offering you “ways” to a speedy processing even before you reach the gate. Red tape and corruption was also common that time. In the Land Transportation Office, applicants accuse the staff of purposely rejecting or failing license applications just because they chose to do the licensing themselves and not via fixers. Also, there is the problem of slow process times and unclear instructions.

Fast forward to 2010. Most government office now have a functional website. One great example is the National Statistics Office (NSO) website where you can request copies of your birth certificate and have it delivered to your doorstep. Also, passport renewal or application appointments can now be done online via the DFA Passport Appointment System. I was impressed at how easy it is to book an appointment unlike before when government websites are outdated and unreliable. I remember when I was applying for an SSS number. I checked their website and was instructed to print a certain form and present it to an SSS office so I did just that. When I showed the printed document to the assessment officer, he scratched his head and asked “Ano to?” (What’s this?).

We still have a long way to go to match the efficiency of government offices and services like that of the US and UK. But, we’re getting there.

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