Posted 1 month ago
SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) is pursuing a regular schedule for the processing of passports in the Freeport in order to serve residents of the Subic Bay area and nearby communities.
SBMA Chairperson and Administrator Wilma Eisma said she has requested the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to conduct passport processing here at least twice a year and, later on, to establish full consular services at the Subic Bay Freeport.
“The plan is to start with a passport issuance office, which will evolve into a consular affairs office,” Eisma said in a media briefing on Monday.
The SBMA official made this announcement after the successful conduct of a mobile passport processing activity at the Ayala Harbor Point Mall here on January 13, where some 700 passport applications were processed by visiting DFA personnel.
The project was spearheaded by the DFA and SBMA, with the DFA contingent led by Office of the Consular Affairs Regional Center Chief Bayani Sibug and the SBMA technical working group headed by SBMA Office Services Department chief Gerardo Hermoso, Jr.
“We received an overwhelming number of requests from residents for another passport processing project, as a lot of residents were disappointed to find out that no walk-in applicants were entertained,” Eisma said. “So we would try to make this a regular project for the benefit of local residents.”
Hermoso said the passport processing project was, at first, intended for SBMA employees only, as part of the agency’s 25th founding anniversary program. The applications processed on January 13 were actually filed for pre-qualification last October.
However, the project was later on extended to include immediate family members of SBMA employees to fill the 750 slots given by the DFA, until it was opened to walk-in applicants during the final acceptance of requirements last year.
The applications and requirements accepted by the SBMA TWG were sent to the DFA office in Manila for verification to hasten processing time when they come here for the personal appearance of applicants and the data-capturing phase of the processing, Hermoso explained.
Eisma, however, assured Subic Bay residents that the SBMA is now coordinating with the DFA for the next application processing project.
“Hopefully, we will have another one by the fourth quarter and that will be a regular event,” she said.
“This will be among our corporate social responsibility projects to help residents of neighboring towns, as well as assist the DFA in their mission to promote and protect Philippine interests in the global community,” Eisma further said.
In August last year, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act 10928, which extended the validity of Philippine passports, by amending the Philippine Passport Act of 1996.
Chairman Eisma said the Subic agency will announce the schedule of the next mobile passport processing project via its radio station Subic Bay radio 89.5-FM, as well as social media and other platforms for public announcement. (Ric Sapnu/SunStar Pampanga)