By Mizpah Grace G. Castro
Ilocos Norte Governor Imee R. Marcos expressed her deep gratitude to President Rodrigo R. Duterte and lawmakers for signing into law Republic Act (RA) 10928, which extends the regular validity of Philippine passports from five to 10 years.
RA 10928 amends the Philippine Passport Act of 1996, RA 8239. Five-year validity remains however for passport holders under 18 years of age.
“Napakarami nga tayong mga OFW [overseas Filipino worker] dito sa Ilocos Norte. Halos lahat ng taga rito, may kamag-anak na nasa abroad, nagsisikap at nagpapadala ng ‘pao-it’ [Ilocano for ‘padala’] upang makatulong sa pamilya,” said the governor.
An estimated 61% of families in the province receive financial assistance in the form of remittances from relatives working abroad. This is a result of Ilocano outmigration that began in the early 1900s with the Sakadas, groups of Ilocanos who left to work in Hawaiian plantations.
Overseas work spread to more continents, and today there exists an Ilocano diaspora from Western nations like the United States and Canada to nearby countries like Hong Kong and Singapore, as well as the Middle East and Australia.
Governor Marcos pointed out the convenience provided by the extended validity, adding that people in Ilocos Norte often look forward to the mobile passporting services of the Department of Foreign Affairs, because passport processing would otherwise require them to travel to regional offices.
“The rise of budget airlines has widened opportunities and the desire for travel,” she said, “especially with so many having families and loved ones to visit abroad.”
She also emphasized travel as a demand of “an increasingly globalized economy and job market, kaya ito nga, lubos kaming nagpapasalamat dito sa Ilocos Norte kay Presidente Duterte, ni Apo Digong, pati na rin sa lahat ng ating mga senador at congressman na pumabor sa pagpapahaba ng passport validity.”—(Mizpah Grace G. Castro, PGIN-CMO)