The first working day after the announcement of an outreach to Dublin by the embassy in London and the complaints have poured into Balita Pinoy.
The main problem has been the use of only one fax number by the embassy for applicants to submit their preparatory requests for E-passport renewals.
As there are only 150 slots, everyone and their son has been on a fax machine in Ireland trying to get their application in, and as can be imagined, the number has been busy.
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A spokesman for the embassy told Balita Pinoy over the phone they know there are going to be a lot of complaints over this, but that they are restricted in what they can do with the resources available.
As it is a 2 day visit, there can only be 150 passport renewals as machine time is 22 minutes per user. This then begs the obvious solution of booking more days to accommodate the many more Pinoys who are desperate to get new passports.
Essentially, as these passports are electronic, and contain bio-metric details, each applicant needs to be at the machine teminal whilst processing (eyeball, fingerprints etc) goes on.
The fax machine application route is causing a lot of discomfort, as there is no feedback saying if the applicant is among the lucky 150.
The embassy spokesman said they used this route so there is only one fax machine used to ensure a first come, first served basis is easy to administer. He said that emails would mean they [they embassy] would be swamped.
The complaints have included the fact that most people do not have faxes now with e-mails being the preferred use of communication, so many applicants have had to make special arrangements. This has also meant that the fax number is consistently engaged.
On the matter of a replacement honorary consul, the embassy spokesman told Balita Pinoy that the DFA in Manila has submitted a name to the Irish authorities (last November), and that the Irish are conducting background, criminal and presumably security checks. The spokesman said they have been notified these checks can take up to 3 months to complete.
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