MANILA – Malacañang on Thursday said it would discuss with Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado the reported depletion of the country’s passport revolving fund.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque gave the assurance after Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. revealed Wednesday that the passport revolving fund has been used up.
“We trust Secretary Locsin can find the funds. And I will bring this matter up also to Secretary Avisado,” Roque said in a virtual presser.
In a Twitter post on Wednesday, Locsin bared that the government’s entire passport revolving fund is “gone,” and its arrears to APO Production Unit, the country’s passport printing contractor, has reached PHP388 million.
Locsin said the fund was “eaten up by travel allowances, insurance, and miscellany.”
He also appealed for patience as his office tried to look for money to replenish the fund.
On Thursday, Locsin said he would cut off foreign travels to replenish the passport revolving fund.
“I am cutting off foreign travels. There’s tons of money there. No more conference trips. There’s Zoom. [I] will get Avisado to help me realign. I stopped building renovation and capital expenses. Government needs every peso for vaccination,” Locsin said.
Republic Act 8239 or the Philippine Passport Act of 1996 states that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) may charge a service fee or not more than PHP250 for the processing and issuance of passports requiring special consideration, waiver or issuance beyond regular office hours.
The passport revolving fund may be used by the DFA “for the improvement of its passporting and consular services, except for the payment of travel and transportation allowances,” according to the law. (PNA)