Senate ratifies passport bill

Senate ratifies passport bill

THE PHILIPPINE SENATE has ratified the bicameral conference committee report on a measure that seeks to streamline the passport application process.

At the Senate’s plenary session on Wednesday, Senator Maria Imelda “Imee” R. Marcos, who sponsored the proposed New Philippine Passport Act, said lawmakers deleted a clause giving senior citizens and persons with disabilities a 20% discount on application fees, as recommended by the Department of Foreign Affairs.

The reconciled version of Senate Bill 2001 and House Bill 6510 also increased the penalty for forgery and the improper use of travel documents to 15 years from the 12 years in prison.

The passport measure, which the Senate approved on final reading in September, will set up a watchlist of people who have been denied passports or have had their passports canceled, which would fast-track the approval process.

Senior citizens and migrant workers will be allowed to renew their passports virtually.

Meanwhile, the Senate also ratified the bicameral report on a bill that seeks to give senior citizens a P100,000 cash gift in three equal tranches.

Senior citizens will get the case even if they are not yet 100 years old. The law only allows senior citizens within a year of reaching 80, 90, or 100 years to receive cash gifts. — John Victor D. Ordoñez