“All of these passports will be issued in Manila, and that’s why the waiting period (six weeks) will be slightly longer,” Aragon said. “As you know, here in the US, all passports are machine readable, and in Asia, all the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) member countries, including the Philippines, are already issuing MRPs, in accordance with an agreement reached with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) that all its nationals should be carrying machine readable passports no later than April, 2010,” Aragon said.
ICAO is a specialized agency of the United Nations that is promoting the safety and orderly development of civil aviation throughout the world. These global standards are observed and harmonized by its member countries, and compliance will benefit governments, travelers, airports and airlines in document security and integrity and ease of travel. The use of MRPs would also put a stop to the segregation and delay of Filipino travelers in airports due to the slower process of manual processing and close scrutiny of documents.
“Conservatively, we will be accepting around one million or so application for such passports in our area of responsibility which extends as far as Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Southern Nevada and Southern California,” Aragon declared.
The new passports will be maroon-colored, 46 pages and computer-printed. “Now, we will require applicants to personally appear at the Consulate. We ca no longer accept passport applications by mail,” Aragon emphasized. One important change is that passport photos must be shot in front of a royal blue background. Photos must be 4.5 by 3.5 centimeters in size and the image of the applicant must occupy 70 to 80 per cent of the photograph. Other requirements are: the photograph should be a straight frontal shot (no tilting of head); medium smile is allowed, applicants must be in a collared shirt and or decent attire, with both ears visible. Prescription eyeglasses are OK, provided it does not show glare. Head scarves and veils are allowed for religious and health reasons.
The MRPs will be issued by the Philippine Consulate General at no additional cost. It still costs $50.00, the same as the old green passports. Valid green Philippine passports will be still honored as bona fide travel documents until they expire. “We would like to encourage our kababayans, especially those who are not in a hurry to travel to come and apply for the MRPs,” Aragon said. “Those who will be traveling to the Philippines in three months, you can set an appointment and apply for the MRP at this Consulate,” Aragon announced.
The Philippine Consulate General in Los Angeles issues the most number of passports in all Philippine posts: over 31,000 passports a year.