During the ribbon cutting at the opening of the Philippine e-Passport Renewal Centre at VFS Global in Dubai on Thursday. Kamal Kassim/Gulf Today
Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter
Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. inaugurated the first-ever outsourced alternative Philippine e-Passport Renewal Centre (PPRC) at the VFS Global premises in Wafi Mall in Dubai on Thursday, part of the commitment of the Duterte Administration to better serve overseas Filipinos (OFs).
The inauguration took place after the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) between Philippine Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Civilian Security and Consular Concerns Brigido Dulay and VFS Global-Business Development head Chris Dix also on Thursday morning.
The PPRC is a Department of Foreign Affairs-Manila (DFA-Manila) “at no cost” pilot project complete with the equipment and software utilized by an all-Filipino staff serving the community from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. with no break seven days a week.
VFS Global, also the outsource for the passport services for the governments of Italy, the Netherlands, UK, Ghana, and India, purchased all the necessary safe and secure technology from DFA-Manila.
The technology is seamlessly connected in real time with the facilities in DFA-Manila.
The PPRC comes years after Gulf Today has seen Filipinos in the UAE exponentially grow, currently at over 600,000 and at any point in time scramble for electronic passport appointment schedules at the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi or at the Philippine Consulate General in Dubai, whose less than 100 officers and men tirelessly rotate for the process of an average of 800 passport applications a day, aside from attending to diplomatic duties and responsibilities as well as to other consular services to their countrymen and non-Filipinos.
With the PPRC, Filipinos across the UAE will have more ease in applying for the renewal of their passports as they could do so “walk in.”
Two other PPRCs have been time-lined to open in Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia in 2020.
Locsin delivered a speech before representatives of the Philippine Community in Dubai/the Northern Emirates and Abu Dhabi/Western Region, and in the presence of VFS Global officials led by South Asia/Americas/Middle East & North Africa Regional Group chief operations officer Vinay Malhotra.
Malhotra thanked “The Republic of the Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs for their faith in us.”
Locsin emphasized the thrust of Manila in boosting more the second pillar of the Philippines’s foreign policy: the protection of the rights and the promotion of the welfare of OFs.
“Your well-being is our utmost primary foreign policy.”
The former Philippines Representative to the United Nations (2017-2018) pointed out another significance of the PPRC by associating this with the efforts of Manila to counter all forms of human trafficking through the expansion of the proper and secure documentation of the Philippine passport with credible and reliable entities such as the VFS Global, and more importantly with other governments such as the UAE.
Locsin signed the “Memorandum of Understanding in Combatting Human Trafficking” with UAE Foreign Affairs Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan on the sidelines of the 74th UN General Assembly in New York last September.
Locsin said that while individuals had approached him for services/offers for the OFs upon his assumption as DFA secretary in October 2018, he is determined to only work with people and organizations whose goal is to honestly and responsibly deliver “efficient, effective consular services (for) you do not deserve anything less.”
Dulay oversaw the fruition of the pilot project within a year.
“This is an option. The two (missions) in Abu Dhabi and Dubai will still (do passporting services) especially for those with complex passporting needs such as changes in their biographical data like (alternations) in their names and civil status which only our DFA personnel could very well decide on.”
DFA-Manila Passports Director Maria Alnee Gamble said all dual citizens have to have their Philippine passports renewed at the missions in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
The new Philippine e-Passport Renewal Centre (PPRC) at the VFS Global premises in Wafi Mall, Dubai is tops.
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