DFA signs deal for first e-passport renewal center in Dubai

Robie de Guzman   •   November 25, 2019   •   275

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with a private firm to establish the first electronic passport (e-passport) renewal center (PaRC) at a mall in Dubai.

In a statement, the DFA said the launch of the PaRC will allow Filipinos in Dubai and Northern Emirates to choose between applying for the renewal of their passport at the Philippine Consulate General in Dubai or at the center.

“Those who avail of the services at PaRC will pay an additional convenience fee on top of the normal cost of passport renewal that they pay at the Consulate General or at the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi,” the statement read.

“The PaRC will only cater to simple passport renewal services that do not require any changes in the biographic details of the passport holder,” it added.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., and VFS Global head of business development Chris Dez witnessed the signing of the agreement, which coincided with the inauguration of the PaRC at the Dubai Health Care City.

The establishment of the e-passport renewal center aims to provide an alternative means for Filipinos to avail of passport renewal services in two of the Middle East countries with the highest concentration of Filipino workers—the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

This is the first time that the Philippine government has outsourced part of its renewal of passport application service to a private entity.

The department said the outsourcing to VFS Global only applies to the frontline operation of passport renewal application such as the “acceptance of application, capturing of biometrics and biographical details, payment of fees, and release of passport.”

“It should be noted that the actual production of passport is still with the DFA,” it said.

The United Arab Emirates is the second-largest concentration of Filipino workers in the Middle East with around 600,000 Filipinos living and working there.

The DFA said other PaRCs will be opened in Abu Dhabi, Riyadh and Jeddah in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 2020.

DFA reminds Filipinos: Don’t bring animal products to South Korea

Robie de Guzman   •   January 21, 2020

Quarantine workers spray disinfectant at Incheon International Airport, in Incheon, South Korea, 21 January 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Tuesday reminded Filipinos that bringing of animal or livestock products to South Korea is prohibited.

The DFA issued the reminder after a Filipino traveler was issued a five-year entry ban for “failing to pay the fine amounting ₩5,000,000.00 (PHP219,907.87) for bringing pork sausages at the airport.”

The Filipino traveler came to South Korea last October 21, 2019.

“This shows how stringent the South Korean authorities are regarding the enforcement of the regulation,” the DFA said.

The agency, through the Philippine Embassy in Seoul, reiterates that under South Korea’s Law on the Prevention of Contagious Animal Disease, and pursuant to the advisories from South Korean government agencies, carrying animal or livestock products is restricted, adding that products should be reported and declared at the quarantine office of the port of entry.

Policy violators will be fined up to ₩10,000,000.00 (PHP439,815.73), and those who fail to pay the fine will be banned from entering South Korea.

The DFA also advised Filipinos entering South Korea as visitors, workers or residents to refrain from bringing restricted items in their hand-carry or checked-in luggage.

“All hand-carry and checked-in luggage of passengers are subjected to security screening at the airport terminals,” the agency added.

Two Filipinos trafficked into Iraq back in PH – DFA

Robie de Guzman   •   January 17, 2020

DFA-OUMWA welcomes home two more Filipinos from Baghdad, Iraq. Both are victims of human trafficking. The Philippine government shouldered their airfare and exit visa. Fifteen Filipinos have been brought home since mandatory repatriation of Filipinos in Iraq was declared on January 8, 2020.

MANILA, Philippines – Two Filipino women who were trafficked into Iraq have returned to the Philippines, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Friday.

In a statement, the DFA said the two females who repatriated from Baghdad, Iraq arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Friday afternoon.

Department representatives welcomed the two repatriates who were both victims of human trafficking.

The DFA said a total of 15 Filipinos have been brought home since the government ordered for mandatory repatriation of Filipino workers in Iraq last January 8.

The mandatory evacuation order was triggered by the hoisting of alert level 4 due to the security threats in the Middle East.

The alert level for Filipinos in Iraq was raised after Iran launched a series of ballistic missile attacks on Iraq’s bases, where US forces were located.

Iran’s firing of rockets was in retaliation for the death of top military general Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a US drone strike in Baghdad last January 3.

On the same day, more than 170 passengers were killed after Iran shot down a Ukrainian plane while on alert after its missile attack against US forces.

30 Filipinos repatriated from Haiti amid civil unrest

Robie de Guzman   •   January 16, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Thirty Filipinos repatriated from Haiti — which was gripped by “unstable economic and security concerns” — have arrived in the country, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Thursday.

In a tweet, the DFA said the group, which included six minors, arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 on Thursday.

The Filipinos opted to return home instead of being “adversely affected by the circumstances” in Haiti.

Since the last quarter of 2019, Haiti has been experiencing economic and security woes as a result of ongoing civil unrest.

Dozens have been killed in anti-government mass demonstrations in various cities, including its capital Port-au-Prince.

The Philippine Embassy in Washington, which has jurisdiction over the Caribbean state, facilitated the group’s repatriation.

The Consulate in New York also assisted during their transit.

The embassy assured to provide assistance to remaining Filipinos who wish to move out of Haiti.

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