A HOUSE lawmaker is pushing for the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to extend the validity of passports of Filipinos working abroad to facilitate their immediate deployment amid continuing delays in the release of new passports.

MARINO Party-list Representatives Sandro L. Gonzales and Macnell M. Lusotan filed House Resolution 2367 calling on the department to extend the passport validity by two years of Overseas Filipinos Workers (OFWs) due for deployment within 120 days.

“The delay in the processing of passports might result in lost employment opportunities and the replacement of Filipino seafarers and land-based OFWs by other nationalities whose governments can immediately issue their workers’ deployment documents,” according to a copy of the resolution.

As an industry practice, seafarers and land-based OFWs are usually required to hold a passport with at least 18 months validity before being deployed to their jobs.

The DFA reported in a House budget hearing in August that they have a backlog of up to four million passports renewal applications due to restrictions prompted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The lawmakers also said that mobility restrictions made it harder for OFWs to go to consular officers to process their passport applications and other documents needed for their deployment.

“The present extraordinary situation warrants the use of extraordinary means to address the passport issue,” they said. — Russell Louis C. Ku