The suggestion of Foreign Affairs chief for accredited travel agencies to take advantage of the “passport on wheels” may not be doable, as the DFA imposes requirements that the agency could not attain, the Philippine Travel Agency Association chief said.
In an interview, PTAA president Marlene Dado Jante said that requesting for “passport on wheels” requires them to provide for the venue and the documents that should be submitted for screening prior to the event.
“The Travel association should provide the venue and the documents should be screened 3 weeks before the date,” she said, adding that they have rejected the idea when the DFA mentioned the project.
Cayetano on Friday suggested to travel agencies to submit their clients’ passport applications during travel fairs as the DFA will install “passport on wheels” on travel expo events.
“Give us a list of your travel fairs, And kahit a day before and during the travel fairs, maglalagay kami ng mga makina dun, maglalagay kami ng passport on wheel,” the foreign chief said.
Jante said that Cayetano’s suggestion contradict the requirements imposed by his officials who asked them to submit documents three weeks prior to the event.
Afro Asian World Events Angel Ramos Bognot said that recently the DFA, through Undersecretary Jose Montales and Consular Affairs assistant secretary Frank Cimafranca, contacted them and said that they will open the slots for the agencies if they will provide for the venue.
“Hindi kami pumayag,” she said.
“That’s foul. That’s the role of the government to provide the venue. (it should be) kung may government offices, kailangan doon gagawin at the same time,” Bognot said.
Jante also rejected Cayetano’s claim that travel agencies force their clients to buy tickets from them when applying or renewing their passports.
Cayetano claimed on Friday’s press briefing that “kung bibigyan natin ng slots ang travel agencies, ang mangyayari, kung mas madaling kumuha sa kanila, para bang kailangan mong bumili ng ticket. Paano kung online mo gusto bumili ng ticket?”
He expressed fears that if the DFA to bring back the allotments for travel agencies, people will also ask for exceptions.
But Jante lamented the allegation, saying that they will never force any client to buy tickets from them.
“This is not true... Hindi pilitan ang pagavail ng service or pagbili ng ticket. We work professionally. Pag nagustuhan ng client ang serbisyo ng Travel Agency babalik balik yan,” Jante said.
She said she remains hopeful that the removal of their allotted slots was just “temporary”.
However, a DFA official who refused to be identified admitted that Cayetano is firm on totally removing their slots.
“He (Cayetano) is pretty consistent on the removal of slots,” the official admitted.
Jante said that this may contradict the assurance of Cimafranca, who said in a radio interview that the removal was just temporary.
“The latest from Asec Cimafranca yesterday sa interview with DZMM live ako and phone patch sya temporary suspension pa din,” she said.
“He has to talk to his Assistant Secretary. It seems they are not talking,” Jante added.
On July 31, 2017, the DFA “temporarily” removed the online appointment slots of travel agencies reportedly to streamline the passport process and “cleanse” the agency of unscrupulous and bogus fixers.
However, despite the temporary removal, the DFA advised the travel agencies to still submit their yearly accreditation fee of P500 from each of the 256 travel agencies or a total of P128,000. The accreditation is set to expire on September 2018.