MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law the bills extending the validity of Philippine passports and drivers' licenses.
The two laws, Republic Act No. 10928 and Republic Act No. 10930, were signed on Wednesday, August 2.
Under RA 10928, regular passports for citizens who are at least 18 years old will be valid for 10 years. The passports issued for those under 18 years old will only be valid for 5 years.
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The law also states that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), as the passport issuing authority, can choose to limit passport validity to less than 10 years "whenever in the national economic interest or political stability of the country such restriction is necessary."
The DFA is instructed to issue implementing rules and regulations. The law also orders the DFA to make sure the system of passport processing is "seamless, convenient, and pro-people."
Before the law, passports were only valid for 5 years.
RA 10930, meanwhile, extends the validity of the driver's license from 3 years to 5 years, reckoned from the birthdate of the licensee. The extension does not apply to student permits.
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When renewed, the driver's license, whether professional or non-professional, will be given 10 years' validity as long as the license holder did not commit any violation of the Land Transportation and Traffic Code (RA 4136) and other traffic rules and regulations.
But the new law does more than renew drivers' licenses. It also imposes stricter requirements before someone can be issued a license.
The law adds a section to the Land Transportation and Traffic Code that states that drivers' licenses are to be issued only to "deserving applicants with sufficient driving skills and knowledge on road safety and proper road courtesy."
Thus, "theoretical and practical examinations" must "sufficiently measure the competency of drivers."
Another new section states that any government employee who issues a driver's license without the necessary examinations or issues one to an undeserving applicant will be removed from his or her post.
A person who applied for a license and is found to have falsified documents, cheated in the driving test, or connived with a government officer will be fined P20,000.
Duterte identified the bills extending passports and drivers' licenses as priority bills in his first State of the Nation Address as part of efforts to remove red tape in government. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.