The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Tuesday it has a total of three million backlogs in applications for the issuance of new and renewed passports. 

“The backlog, meaning the estimate of the number of people who want to get a Philippine passport now, is at three million. Ang dami talaga (there are really so many), if we base it on our historical records,” Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Brigido Dulay said during an interview with radio station dzBB.

“The biggest challenge is really the Covid-19 pandemic because we had to cut our operations by 50% to comply with minimum public health standards. You cannot make all the people go pack the place because social distancing is required,” he added.

Even with adding off-site centers, this effort won’t still be able to meet the demand of increased passport applicants, Dulay said. 

The DFA also revealed that it is planning to open more application sites but only for overseas Filipino workers and those who are renewing their passports, just to accelerate the application process. 

“The three million backlog is what we are working on, and the challenge really is how can we catch up at a time of the pandemic,” he said.

“We need more sites, and these will only be for OFWs and passport renewal because evaluating documentary requirements takes more time for new passport applicants,” the DFA official added.

Dulay can’t reveal why there’s an uptick of people applying for a passport. 

“We appeal to the public that if it is not urgent, they should consider deferring it and let those OFWs, with medical concerns and for family reunification avail of the services first. But of course we cannot stop the public from wanting to get a passport since it also speaks of the integrity of our passport system,” he pointed out. Ronald Espartinez