THE PHILIPPINE SENATE on Tuesday approved on second reading a bill that seeks to streamline the passport application process.

Senate Bill 2001 or the New Philippine Passport Act, which is one of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.’s priority measures, allows senior citizens and migrant workers to renew their passports virtually, without having to go to the Department of Foreign Affairs office.

Filipinos who lost their passports may request for emergency passports that are valid for a year. They may also seek an emergency travel document certificate if passports are lost overseas, before they return to the Philippines.

“It would be wise to improve, as much as we can, the language involved during the bicameral conference and even thereafter,” Senator Maria Imelda “Imee” R. Marcos, who sponsored and co-authored the bill, said during Tuesday’s plenary session.

The measure will also set up a watchlist for people who have been denied passports or have had their passports canceled.

Also on Tuesday, senators approved on second reading a bill seeking to expand the coverage of monetary benefits under the Centenarian Law to 80-year-old and 90-year-old Filipinos.

The measure will allow the senior citizens to receive a cash gift totaling P100,000 in three equal tranches. The National Economic and Development Authority will be tasked to consider inflation when dividing the cash gift into three payments.

Senator Ramon B. Revilla, Jr., the bill’s author, in March said the cash gift should be advanced “so that our elderly can still enjoy it.” “Many beneficiaries are too old to enjoy the cash gift they receive.” — John Victor D. Ordoñez