The DFA Saga

Anybody had a hard time dealing with DFA? I just did. Remember my post regarding pet peeves a few months ago and I mentioned that one of my pet peeves is dealing with government offices? *Sigh* Let me just recount the events prior to the release of my passport.

When I lost my backpack last March, my passport was in there. Being so preoccupied, I forgot to take it out and secure it at home. So, I lost it, too, and it was never returned. Most likely, it already ended up in the garbage dump somewhere in Tarlac. I secured an affidavit of loss so I can process for a replacement and set an appointment on July 21 (earliest I was able to get when I tried get a schedule in July for a replacement) at DFA Megamall. Here’s what happened:

July 21 11AM:

I went to DFA Megamall and fell in line. It was actually my first time to process my passport at a satellite office.   I was assigned at Window 10 when it was my turn. They have about 12 windows and most of those are open so the processing was fast. The admin checked my documents and when he saw that I was applying for a replacement passport, I was asked to go to the main branch (DFA Aseana) to secure a clearance. And so I took a cab going to the main branch (and it was a good thing because there was no traffic that time) and proceeded to the consular records area. They took my application form, affidavit of loss and photocopy of my lost passport (which I was able to find a copy in the pile of papers in my in/out tray). I was told that there will be a 15-day clearing period (which I find it too long) before they can release my application. I was told to come back on the 5th of August.

And so I waited.

August 5, 1030 AM:

I proceeded to DFA Aseana to get the clearance and my application form. I was then told to proceed to step 2 (which was pay the processing fee). This was where I got confused. I asked the guy at the information desk if I can continue processing my application in DFA Megamall since that was where I started. He said (and in a rude voice), “Dito ka na nga pinapunta kasi may issue passport mo. E d dito mo na iprocess yan.”  (They sent you here because there was an issue with your passport. You should have it processed here.). And so I proceeded to step 2 as was advised.

At the cashier window, there was a note there that instructs people to just give the receipt for payment. I asked the guard about it and I told him that there was no receipt issued yet. He told me to go to the information desk again. This time pointing the one located outside the processing area at the second floor. The lady at the desk was helpful. She said that I should proceed to step 1 for the processing since the only one done is verification. So I asked her if I can proceed with the processing at DFA Megamall since that was where I started and I was thinking it would be more convenient for me to pick up my passport there since it is just a few minutes away from my apartment and from the office. She said yes, I can go back there and there is no need to set another appointment.

Thanking her for her assistance, I went back to DFA Megamall. And it was only 11:30AM.

At DFA Megamall, since I was a returning applicant, I was led to Window 12. They processed my application and told them it will be rush processing (which is only 7 working days compared to regular processing which is 15 working days). I was then advised that the earliest release date is August 14 but to expect 3-5 days delay. No further explanation provided and for some reason, I did not ask. I only asked if it can be released on the 14th due to urgency and I was advised to call first to check. The release date range provided was August 14-22, 2014.

So I proceeded to the cashier to pay for the rush processing fee as well as the lost passport fine, then went to encoding to provide my signature and have my picture taken. Afterwards, I left and went to work. And again, I wait.

In all fairness, the processing in Megamall was quick and easy. Not much people that day, too.

August 14, 1030AM:

I called DFA Megamall. Noone was answering. I searched DFA’s website to check if there are other numbers that I could call. I only found two. I tried both numbers and still,  no one was answering.

By 2PM, I went to the branch and proceeded to Door 5 – the releasing area. I was then told that my passport is still not available and that it was still in queue for printing. I asked what the cause of delay was. The guy said it was technical and that it was already explained when I applied for the passport. I just had to tell him that it was not explained and no reason provided, only that there is a delay. I also asked if there is a way to have it expedited due to urgent need. He said they cannot do anything and that I should follow up on the 22nd. I mean, what?? Seriously? What was the point that I had it processed as express and paid the premium, right?

I told the guy that I will come back the next day, regardless.

August 15, 2PM:

And so I went back. Again, I was told that the status did not change. I asked if there was a way to get it expedited as I am expected to be in Singapore on the week of the 18th for an urgent business need. He said to just follow up on the 22nd.

What is wrong with all these people??!?

As soon as I got to the office, I sent an email to DFA Megamall. I was not exactly expecting a response but I was hoping that it would help in getting my passport released earlier. I got a response the next day (surprisingly) saying that I should follow up in two days’ time.

On another note, another work mate of mine had her passport renewed at the same branch. She followed up on the 14th as well and when she insisted that the need is urgent and that her ticket was already booked, she was told by the admin guy that she should go back on the 18th at 10AM so they can include her name in the list that the messenger will send to Bangko Sentral (where they print passports). I got pissed after knowing that. I was never told that there was a way to get things expedited.

And so I planned to be early on the 18th and insist on getting my passport released immediately.

August 18, 1130AM:

I was not able to get to the branch at 10AM but I went anyway. I saw my work mate there and she told me that her passport will be released that same day but only after a long debate with the OIC of the branch. So I prepared my own argument in case they still didn’t release my passport. Here was how the conversation went:

OIC: Wala pa po yung passport mo. Sa 22 pa po marerelease. (Your passport is still not available. It will be released on the 22nd).

Me: Hindi po ba magagawan ng paraan yan? Urgent na kasi. Kelangan ko na lumipad bukas. (Is there no way to get it released earlier? It is urgent and I need to fly tomorrow).

OIC: Naexplain naman po na meron tayo delay. Nagbigay ba kayo ng proof of urgency nung nagpaprocess kayo? (It was already explained that there are delays. Did you provide proof that there is an urgent need for the passport when you applied?)

Me: (Quite dumbfounded since flight  booking before applying for passport is not advised) Sinabi ko po urgent need. Kaya nga rush processing e, d ba? Kaya nga ako nagbayad ng premium fee. (I told the clerk that it is urgent. I requested for rush processing, didn’t I? That’s why I paid a premium fee for it.)

OIC: Lahat naman po sinasabi urgent. (Everybody says it is urgent).

*And I was like, duh! that’s why they pay extra!*

And so I showed her the email of the initial ticket booking that our Travel Desk sent – flight was dated August 19th. And I also told her about the email response of DFA that I should follow up in two days’ time which was that Monday. And then she went on about the delays and that the release date given is a range and all that.

Then I told her that she already talked to  my work mate and they were able to make a way to get her passport released that day and that the processing dates of both application was only a day apart. I also told her that I was not expecting the passport to be released that day but asked her what assurance she can provide that my passport will be released the next day.

OIC: I guarantee, 100% assurance lalabas po passport mo tomorrow. (I guarantee, 100% assurance that your passport will be released tomorrow). I give you my word.

Me: What time can I expect it?

OIC: *stammering a bit* 5PM

Me: OK. I will follow up again tomorrow and it should be available by then.

And so, I wait again.

August 19, 1030AM:

I woke up late so I opted to call the OIC’s cellphone number which I was able to get from my work mate. LOL! I followed up on the status and she said that it still did not change. What?!?! Again?!?!!

Me: Ma’m, you gave your word that my passport will be released today. That was what you told me yesterday. You gave a 100% assurance when I asked you.

OIC: Ma’am, kahapon po yun. I cannot give the same assurance po ngayon. (Ma’am, that was yesterday. I cannot give the same guaranteed today)

Me: *already starting to fume but held my temper* That is not acceptable. You assured me it will be released today and you gave me your word. I need that passport today. (Yes, I answered her in English. Hahaha!)

OIC: Nagpadala na po kami ng messenger sa BSP (Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas) para dalhin yung listahan ng mga kailangan lumabas ngayon. (We already sent a messenger to BSP to provide the list of names that need to be released today).

Me: What time can I expect an update?

OIC: Mga 1PM po. (Around 1PM)

So, again, I went there at 1:30PM. I was told that – again, for the nth time – my passport is not yet printed. I told the guy that I already talked to the OIC earlier today and was told that my passport will be released today. Another lady came and said it will be released by 6PM.

I called around 5:30PM to validate that it will indeed be released. They told me yes. So by 6PM, I was out of the office and on my way back to DFA Megamall. I had to wait until 7:30PM before my passport was released.

And here it is. Finally!

20140820_030448

Here’s the thing. DFA is getting a lot of applications daily and BSP can no longer accommodate the load since it appears that there is a higher demand than their capacity to produce. Why still offer express processing when you cannot meet the lead time? DFA and BSP personnel need to attend trainings on understanding supply chain that’s for sure.

I know I am not the only one with this kind of experience with DFA. I have encountered a few who were complaining because of the delay on the past few days that I have been going back there.

It is tedious and I don’t know if these people know the hassle that people go through with the delays they are causing.

I am so going to ensure my passport is  safe. Trust me, passport processing (regardless if renewal, replacement or new) is such a pain in the butt.

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  1. I’ve learned a lot from your post. I don’t know na may fine pag nalost mo. Good thing I did not experience this when I renewed my passport pero stress na ko sa mahabang pila. I did not ask for rush processing pero yun agad siningil sa kin. I don’t know nga bakit lagi may problem sa pagrelease passport, pwede naman siguro after 10yrs na lang ang renewal like sa ibang bansa. I hope this will not happen to me at magrenew na rin ko ng passport by Jan.

    1. What I think is that hindi na talaga kaya ng capacity ng printers ng BSP yung demand for passports. Kasi yun lagi sinasabi nila na cause ng delay – technical problems with printers. Bat d nalang sila magdagdag di ba?

  2. It is very difficult to be in your circumstance when you had to go back and forth to Megamall and Aseana. If lost passport cannot be claimed in the Megamall satellite, then they should inform everyone in the first place that only renewal or new applications would be accommodated.

    1. i agree.. nagcomment nga ako nun na wala naman sa procedure nila na dapat pala sa main muna ako for the clearance.. sabi nila andun daw so i checked when i got home that day pero wala talaga.. nakalagay lang na merong 15-day clearing period…

  3. oh wow. I definitely know how it it’s like going around in circles in government offices. sometimes I see social media posts raving about surprisingly efficient government service that they experienced, because apparently they’re the exception! stories like yours seem to be the norm. my passport expired a few months ago and I still haven’t gotten around to renewing it – I wonder if my case will also be classified as “may issue” – I hope not!

    1. It’s actually ironic that we are very competitive in terms of customer service skills yet our government cannot even be at par with the people paying their salaries when it comes to service levels.

  4. I don’t like dealing with government agencies at all. It’s so stressful but i”llhave to face the DFA soon cause I need to renew my passport. Ang bad trip lang, someone stole my wallet last year with all my IDs so I’ll have to deal with more than one government agency…

    1. same thing with me, Mommy May. my backpack was stolen last March kaya dun nawala ung passport ko. i haven’t started with LTO for my driver’s license din. buti nalang i had one government ID left since iniwan ko dati sa sis ko.. it really takes a lot of patience to deal with government agencies

  5. Hay buti d ka nagalit na you had to go back and forth from mega to aseana! As if naman ang lapit lang nun e noh. Ang hassle talaga nila. Hope when I apply passport for the kids, it’ll be hassle-free.

    1. medyo kinaya ko pa naman magtimpi pero sobrang sagad na ung pasensya ko.. for someone as impatient as i am, that was already an accomplishment on my part.. 😀 siguro mag-allot ka nalang ng medyo mahaba habang lead time para nde ka din pabalik balik.. let me know how it goes once you apply for your kids’ passports.. i’m planning to apply for my son din kasi

  6. My golly banana, ang dami mong pinagdaanan just to get your passport! I’m happy that you got it just in time, but I’m not happy at all with the system. That’s the problem with most government offices: sobrang inefficient!

    1. we could have avoided the whole thing if they work on being more efficient and nde lang puro rason and expect the people to just take their word and let things go… sana nga marealize nila na kelangan nila sumabay sa agos ng panahon.. kelangan nila maging more competitive, more efficient and more service oriented

  7. i remember my lost passport saga., It will expire on Sept 15 but I tried to fix it on Sept 1 since I can’t travel anyway they told me come back on Sept 16 para expired na we won’t charge you anymore and am like what? so i had to do what they told me I got my passport on October such a hassle.

  8. I have a hassle-free passport application and renewal but had a hard time in BIR. All I wish is for the government agencies to be efficient. Sayang kasi sa oras at pagod natin. Pero atleast, you got it na! 😀

    1. my initial application was hassle-free too if i remember it correctly. the renewal took almost the whole day because I renewed it in Aseana (a few weeks before the megamall office opened) but it was uneventful din.. yung courier lang yung naging problema ko nun kasi nadelay sila ng about 2-3 days ata but that was it… buti na nga lang yung ngaun, umabot sa booked flight ko… 😀

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