MANILA - The Philippine e-Passport will soon have a new look and will contain improved security features. The Philippine eagle and the wings of the rare Philippine cockatoo will be featured behind the passport cover. The next pages will have the words of the National Anthem and the preamble of the 1987 Constitution. The visa pages will feature famous landmarks of the Philippine regions such as the Metro Manila skyline, the Mayon Volcano of Bicol, the Ifugao Rice Terraces of the Cordillera Administrative Region, among others. The new design will be used starting next year as government envisions to integrate all the processes in the production of e-Passports starting January 2016. The new design was unveiled during President Aquino’s visit to the Apo Production Unit’s high-security printing plant at Lima Technology Center in Batangas, which currently prints the BIR’s excise stamps. Currently, e-covers which contain the chip are being assembled in Europe, while booklet printing is being done by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and the personalization by the Department of Foreign Affairs. The BSP had awarded the passport printing project to the French firm Oberthur Technologies. The DFA then decided to outsource the passport booklet production and personalization with the assistance of recognized government printers, having experienced a backlog and delays in delivery of passports to applicants, a problem which Aquino himself recognized in his speech. “A number of problems were encountered with the previous system: obsolete software and hardware and the inability to meet increasing demand, amongst others. Not to mention the fact that the two integral stages of the production process—booklet printing and assembly, and personalization of passports—were done by two different entities. “This naturally leads to inefficiency, which is compounded all the more by the increases in passport applications we’ve been seeing. In 2014, passport issuances breached the 3 million mark for the first time. Question: How can a problematic system handle such great demand?” Aquino underwent a demonstration or mock enrollment process which took him less than five minutes to complete using APO’s newly-acquired machine. Aquino said the DFA and APO are now in negotiations to integrate the processes, envisioned to cut the processing and delivery of passports from 15 working days to 10 for regular processing and from 7 working days to 5 for express processing. “I am told that both the DFA and the APO are engaged in negotiations to improve further on the current system, and provide printing and personalization services for the next decade. The benefits of housing the entire ePassport system here are clear: The integration of processes in an expansive, and secure facility,” Aquino said. Among the security features to be included in the new e-Passport would be the use of a latent image which would be visible only when the document is viewed at a certain angle, ultraviolet ink only visible under UV light, watermark, the use of a different security background design for every visa page to prevent VISA page tampering, and laser perforation for the unique document number perforate on the passport’s inside pages. It will use the intaglio printing technique which is usually used in printing banknotes.
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