Around 7.5 million senior citizens would benefit from the proposed bill granting lifetime validity on passports, sparing them from physical effort, costs, and time.
Sponsored by Reps. Sandra Eriguel, John Marvin ‘Yul Servo’ Nieto, and Francisco Datol Jr., House Bill Nos. 5316, 5729, and 5968 seek to amend Republic Act No. 8239 or the Philippine Passport Act of 1996 to grant around 7.5 million senior citizens lifetime validity for their passports.
In an earlier statement, Rep. Eriguel pointed out that the Philippines should consider how Spain amended its law to grant the same privilege to its citizens.
“Senior citizens are given importance for their contribution to society during their earlier years. At this stage, most senior citizens no longer have the means nor do the capacity to do all the tasks best left to the younger generations, and neither shall they. As a sign of respect and gratitude, senior citizens are given benefits and privileges to help them enjoy their golden years with ease,” Rep. Eriguel said in pushing for the consideration of the bill.
“Making their passports last a lifetime means that senior citizens do not have to spend for transportation to DFA offices and line up under the sun to have their passports renewed,” Sen. Lito Lapid said last December 2019 as the author of Senate Bill No. 1197, the Senate version of the mentioned bill.
However, at the House Committee on Faoreign Affairs hearing on the bills held last March 3, 2020, the Department of Foreign Affairs - through Office of Consular Affairs Assistant Secretary Neil Frank Ferrer - expressed opposition to the bill despite its noble intentions.
Ferrer explained that the expiration date of a passport is a pivotal marker in tracking the validity of passports and preventing against their misuse or other fraudulent activities. He added that passports are upgraded from time to time to incorporate and improve security measures as set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), and that passports issued with lifetime validity would not be recognized by ICAO for travel purposes.