Malacañang on Saturday, January 13, welcomed the country’s improved ranking in the 2018 Henley Passport Index, where the Philippines placed 72nd among global countries with the most powerful passports.
In a press briefing held in Cebu City, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. announced the latest result of the global index, which ranks all passports based on the number of countries that the passport holder can access visa-free.
From the previous year’s 75th rank, the Philippines has climbed three places this year and is now on the 72nd place.
All holders of Philippine passports can now enjoy visa-free access to a total of 63 countries.
“We are assuring everyone that our people at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) will continue to work towards securing visa-free access of Filipinos to more countries,” Roque said.
Meanwhile, in line with the reported backlogs on passport appointments by the DFA, the Spokesperson stressed that the government is now exerting all efforts to improve the process of passport applications.
He cited the DFA’s plan to implement several improvements in the agency’s passport system to make it more convenient for the public.
These include the streamlining of the passport application process, an improved and more user-friendly Online Appointment System (OAS), additional passport appointment slots and consular offices outside Metro Manila, the setting up of an e-Payment system, availability of OFW lanes, and the reduction of the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) backlog from 33,000 to zero, among others.
Moreover, Roque said that the DFA also planned to deploy Passporting on Wheels (POW) vehicles starting January 2018 to decongest the consular offices in Manila.
The agency would likewise continue to deploy weekly Mobile Passporting Services in key locations nationwide, he added.
Palace reiterates zero tolerance for corruption
Meanwhile, Secretary Roque reiterated the President’s assurance that corrupt practices would not be tolerated under his administration as the Palace is soon to announce the next government official who would be fired by the President.
“A decision has been made. There’s a reason why it hasn’t been announced. But I will be announcing it very soon,” Roque said.
Roque assured that the President remains serious about his resolve to deal with the problem of corruption in government.
“Uulitin ko po ang panawagan. ‘Yung mga gusto magbiyahe, gusto yumaman, umalis na po kayo ng gobyerno. Pumunta na po kayo sa pribadong sektor dahil hindi po huhupa ang kampanya ni Presidente laban sa korapsyon,” he said. ### PCO-Content