So I finally got my Passport, after 50 working days of waiting.
This morning I went to the DFA to claim my passport, and as usual, the office was filled “to the brim”. In my estimate, there were more than 500 individuals in that office, all waiting to be served by at least 12 visible DFA employees stationed in their counters, plus the 3 security guards at the entrance.
I looked around the office and I could not help notice that most of those who were there were OFW’s … young and old alike. In my mind, the DFA entertains the same number of passport applicants daily – in no time, ” dili kaya mahurot ang mga Filipino? Ga lumba lang man pang gawas” (Hindi kaya maubos na lahat ng Filipino sa bansa kasi lahat yata lumalabas na para magtrabaho?) In English …. ah! Never mind!
As I sat there, I wanted to take pictures for this article, but I had second thoughts because I might call the attention of authorities and I may be charged of something I would rather not be charged of. So I sat there and observed – as usual.
The lady beside me started complaining about how slow Window 10 was releasing the Passports. She said she has been there since 10:15 (and it was 11:40); I wondered how long I will have to wait for mine. As time went by, I could hear her murmur about how different the Davao DFA Office is; and she kept complaining about how inefficient the people were at Window 10. She said there was no system of distribution whatsoever.
I started focusing on the counter myself and saw that there were 3 people there; 2 ladies and 1 guy. After a few minutes of watching them, I came to understand why the process of releasing the passports was taking longer than necessary; to wit:
First, there were people who were crowding on the window instead of taking their seats and waiting for their names to be called.
Second, I noticed that some people were still presenting documents when claiming their passports. I understand that some will really do especially if they are only authorized representatives – hence the need to present letters of authorization. But I noticed that some were still submitting photocopies of documents that I believe were supposed to be submitted at the processing stage, not the claiming stage.
Third, I noticed that the employees in Window 10 were still entertaining questions and queries, which, to my observation, wasted so much of their time.
I transferred closer to the counter, to a seat immediately in front of the DFA employee. I was agitated already having waited for almost 2 hours, and it was almost 12 noon. Only one employee was left in the counter. The one on the counter was calling out names, one by one. But he was oftentimes interrupted by clients – people asking questions, presenting i-do-not-know-what-documents; and the guy – he kept looking at his watch, maybe thinking about his lunch break.
Then my name was called. I went up and started to open my mouth – my intention was to give him a piece of my mind.
Then he looked at me after reading my name, and he said: “Ma’am, teacher baya ta ka sa College” …
I had to pause … should I scold him now?
Well, I decided against pursuing my original plan. In my mind I am sure he deserves to be “scolded”; but I would not want to make a scene – call attention to him and me. Besides, I taught Ethics (and with it principles of humility and patience) in the school where he attended College, and I would not want him to think I failed to do what I “preached”.
So I got my passport, smiled at him, and said thank you!
BUT, this will not be the end of this “story”. Soon, because I am going back to the DFA; I’ll make sure to look for him and talk to him privately about my observation. I think he deserves to be told.
Maybe this article will also reach him, or them, in the DFA.
And by the way, when I applied for my passport last June 23, the waiting period was 50 working days. As of this morning, the policy has changed. Gibalik na pod tong “express”; you only pay an additional amount and you get your passport earlier than the normal waiting period. This is good news for those who are in a hurry.