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Filipinos in America

Posted 05/15/2010
(Page 3 of 5)

Bad news for Philippine passport applicants in Florida


“Two issues were brought up,” said Consul Gines D. Gallaga, WDCPE Press and Information Officer. “Fees for photos taken at the PHC and a DFA policy which requires the personal appearance before a consular officer for passport applications or renewals.”

Consul Gallaga disclosed that WDCPE received a complaint on fees for photos taken at the PHC. The matter was reported by WDCPE to the DFA Office of Consular Affairs (DFA OCA) in Manila. According to Consul Gallaga, Bong Carino of DFA OCA instructed WDCPE to stick to regulations. DFA policy require personal appearance of passport applicants before a consular officer (not an honorary consul), except for children under 8 years old, adults 65 and over, and highly exceptional cases.

The issue on fees stemmed from the $20 that passport applicants pay for 4 photos with blue background at the PHC. “At Wallgreens its only about $15 for 4 photos,” in an earlier comment by Consul General Ding Nolasco. “They are charging $20.”

Basta Pinoy News questioned PHC on the issue. Mrs. Macatangay responded “that it was optional for applicants to have their photos taken at the PHC. All photos have the blue background and photos that need to be retaken are not charged.”

There are alternative sources of photo services such as Wallgreens, CVS, and photo studios to name a few. A trip to a CVS store 3-miles away from the PHC revealed it charges $19.06 including tax, however, it will not take photos using a blue background. A Wallgreens outlet across the street charges $16.94 including tax for 4 photos, likewise, will only take photos on “white background only” according to store staff. Both stores did not allow one to bring their own backgrounds. Repeat photos require additional payment at original price.

In a followup interview with WDCPE, Consul Gallaga stated it was not the issue of fees that moved WDCPE to rescind its arrangement with the PHC.

“We are also preparing for the implementation of ePassports where we use special equipment to capture biometric information from applicants,” said Consul Gallaga. “There is no definite implementation date yet in the US, as resources and infrastructure needs to be in place to support special equipment.”

“It was all about following DFA regulations and policies,” said Consul Gallaga.

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