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DFA disregards drop in Philippine powerful passports ranking

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Friday said it disregards the “opinion-based” Henley and Partner’s Passport Index, which has the Philippines dropping eight notches in the 2021 ranking of most powerful passports.

This was the statement of DFA Office of Consular Affairs (OCA) executive director Maria Alnee Gamble during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the proposed Philippine Passport Act.

“Our position on this is, this [ranking] is something that we can disregard. This is something that is put together by other people, by travelers. So it is opinion-based,” Gamble said when asked if the public should be concerned about the index.

The DFA official explained that the travel bans imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic also affected the “power” of the Philippine passport.

“With the pandemic, a lot of passports are also affected and not just ours because we have entry bans. So when we have entry bans, other countries will also have travel bans against us. So we expect those passport ratings,” she added.

Senator Francis Tolentino however said this should not be taken “lightly” by the DFA as the Philippine passport serves as a badge of citizenship of each Filipino.

“Now, if our passport is downgraded then the acceptance towards us by the host countries will also be downgraded,” Tolentino explained in mixed English and Filipino.

In the 2021 Henley Passport Index, the Philippines dropped to 82nd place from last year’s 74th rank.

According to its website, the Henley Passport Index is the original, authoritative ranking of all the world's passports based on the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa.

It is based on the data from International Air Transport Association (IATA), which is said to be the largest and most accurate travel information database.

The index includes 199 different passports and 227 different travel destinations. The ranking is updated every quarter. — DVM, GMA News