By CHRIS V PANGANIBAN
DOHA: Filipinos in Qatar have joined their fellow expatriates in Saudi Arabia in questioning the implementation of the costly processing of the new electronic passport system.
Philippine Ambassador to Qatar Crescente Relacion however explained the more convenient e-passport would really cost more than the Machine Readable Passport because of the production since a microchip is embedded on it that the biometrics would easily read thumb marks and other needed information when using it on travel.
Bert Medina, Director for Business Development of OITC Holding Group, said the sudden implementation of e-passport just about a few months when the MRP was approved at QR240 per person would only double the expenses of the Overseas Filipino Workers.
“I am afraid it would be burdensome especially to the low-income Filipino workers,” Medina said adding that the Department of Foreign Affairs should have planned it carefully by implementing directly the e-passport system rather than requiring first OFWs to seek MRP.
Christina Tanching-Marinas, a Filipino community leader, said she received numerous calls about the sudden implementation of e-passport which cost higher than MRP that was just implemented more than two months ago.
Aileen Andojar, a staff of a PR agency, said the more expensive e-passport is not fair for the lowly Filipino workers and the increase is not reasonable considering that the Philippine Embassy needs to improve their services for OFWS processing their documents there.
An OFW advocacy group in Saudi Arabia has earlier protested what it claimed as overpricing of Philippine e-passport since Filipino workers would be paying SR40 more.
“A 40 Riyal increase is too big for an OFW who is only earning less than a thousand riyal,” said a statement from Migrante-Middle East based in Saudi Arabia.
Relacion said the issuance of MRP was a stop-gap for the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to comply with a deadline last April 30 by the International Civil Aviation Organisation requiring all governments to adopt such new technology-based systems.
He said despite the complaints, more and more OFWs have been renewing their old passports with new e-passports since the Embassy started to implement it since the first week of June.
“We saw an increase of more than a 100 renewal application every day,” Relacion said.