In a virtual meeting last Thursday, the committee on foreign affairs approved House Bill 6399, a bill seeking the printing of the country’s map – including the West Philippine Sea and Sabah – on passports.
Authored by Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, the said substitute bill seeks to amend the Passport Act by printing the country’s map on the travel document. Rodriguez said this bill “aims to emphasize and insist on our victory on the West Philippine Sea over China in the International Arbitral Tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, and our legal and historical rights over Sabah.”
“The inclusion of the map on our travel document is a strong statement that we are asserting our sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea and our EEZ,” he added.
Rodriguez further said that the bill provides for an emergency travel document to be issued to any Filipino citizen with urgent travel but who has lost his or her passport or whose passport has expired. It likewise criminalizes the illegal withholding of passports by anyone. The amendatory measure imposes stiffer penalties on violators. If the offender is an alien, he would be deported and blacklisted after serving his sentence. More so, the consolidated bill also seeks to grant millions of senior citizens a 32 percent passport discount.