I am forced to write this blog in response to the countless misconceptions arising either from pure ignorance or laziness to check our laws by our Kababayans with regards to the true mandate of our dearly beloved PASSPORTS. Yes, the one official document that makes us “official” in the country we work, live or visit. I think it might be better to put these annoying and repetitive questions into numbers and answer them accordingly for easy reading and understanding:
1. Is it our right as Filipinos to be issued a passport?
A: Sorry, but NO. It is NEVER a right for us citizens of the Philippines to be issued a Philippine passport. Unlike other rights such as “the right to vote”, where we can demand from the COMELEC or from any Philippine authority to accommodate us and grant us the opportunity, it is never in the case of granting Philippine passports. We cannot demand from the Department of Foreign Affairs of from any Philippine Embassy to issue us passports. We apply for it, and it is within the prerogative of the DFA Secretary or his authorized representatives to grant us passports or not. IN OTHER WORDS, we are issued a passports as a PRIVILEGE and not as a right.
2. So, if it is ONLY a PRIVILEGE and not a RIGHT, why do I own my PASSPORT?
A: DO NOT EVER THINK that you own your PASSPORT. YOU DO NOT OWN YOUR PASSPORT. It is the government of the Philippines which owns your passport. You are MERELY a HOLDER of that passport. It might be issued in your name, bears your age, your address, and other personal data, but you are not its OWNER.
3. So, if I am not the owner of the PASSPORT, and it is the GOVERNMENT that owns it, what can the government do with my passport even if it is in my POSSESSION?
A: It follows [in property laws] that once a person owns a thing, he has the full right to do whatever he likes with it. He can even destroy such thing, if he feels it. No one will file a case against you, if you break your watch or throw it against a wall. Just like our PASSPORT, since it is owned by the Government, the GOVERNMENT can cancel or revoke it even if we are still in its possession. And since it is the Government’s property, it can choose whether to DENY us its issuance, or RESTRICT us with its use.
4. Then if we do not OWN our PASSPORTS, why do we pay a thousand pesos for its issuance, doesn’t it amount also to BUYING the PASSPORT from the GOVERNMENT.
A: NO, IT IS NEVER THE CASE. We do not pay for that booklet of paper. Because if we should pay for the cost of paper only, we should be charged less. The amount we pay is the PRICE OF THE PRIVILEGE extended to us by the STATE or by the GOVERNMENT. It does not even involve the price of the service that comes with the production of our booklet. In any government or state, either democratic, socialist, or communist, it is the OBLIGATION of every citizen to pay taxes or fees to the STATE. This is in exchange for the security, citizenship, and services granted by their governments to them. Try to imagine yourself as a person without a country; without a citizenship. You will be driven out from any place you will try to live, just like what happened to the Palestinians and the Gypsies.
5. So, is it THE OBLIGATION of the GOVERNMENT, in this case, the Philippine Embassy, to issue my PASSPORT at the exact date and time indicated in my COLLECTION SLIP?
A: DARN NO. Please try to look into the paper you are holding. Is it a CONTRACT with the GOVERNMENT? Is it a CERTIFICATE OF TITLE [TITULO] in your NAME? NO. It is only a NOTICE. A notice that you can expect to receive or collect your PASSPORT on that particular date. From the time you were permitted to submit your application, photographed and paid the lawful fee, until the time your passport is actually released to you, your legal interest on the PASSPORT is still under the prerogative and discretion of the GOVERNMENT. Even if your PASSPORT Booklet was already made, the DFA still has the discretion not to issue it to you. So during the period where you don’t have the new passport in your hand, you don’t have any right of possession to it.
6. What could be the instances wherein my PASSPORT could not be issued to me on time?
A: The new PASSPORTS are embedded with microchips and are made not by the DFA but are subcontracted to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. One cause of delay in the creation of the PASSPORT is the unprecedented malfunction at times of the machine that creates it coupled with other factors. The production of the passports were never concealed to the people. It is a basic official act of the GOVERNMENT. All the processes in its production as well as the underlying contracts were, in no doubt, published in newspapers of general circulation. It is not anymore the fault of the DFA if some individuals consider the passport production very long. They should adjust their individual schedules to its processing.
7. Must a citizen renew his PASSPORT, six months prior to its expiration?
A: The Philippine Passport Act DOES NOT provide such requirement. It entirely depends on the the need of the passport holder. It is the International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO) that encourages the renewal of passports six months prior to its expiration because most countries DO NOT allow persons to enter their territory, possessing passports with validity of less than six months. For our Kababayans who has problems on this matter, you are NEVER in a POSITION to malign the Philippine Embassy if it cannot issue the PASSPORT on your desired DATE, so as to satisfy your need. You have the OBLIGATION TO KNOW your LAWS. IGNORANTIA LEGIS NEMINEM EXCUSAT.
8. What could be the best guiding line we should learn from all of these?
A: Remember what John F. Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you – [but] ask what you can do for your country”. Let us stop whining for every inconvenience we encounter, we always end as losers.