On Thursday, August 20, a substitute bill amending the Passport Law has been approved by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, headed by Zamboanga Sibugay Rep. Ann Hofer. Known as the House Bill 6399, the bill mandates the inclusion of the Philippine map “including its 200-mile exclusive economic zone and Sabah” on passports, as well as other revisions to the existing law, as explained by its author Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez.
Rep. Rodriguez says in a press statement that the inclusion of the map on Philippine-issued passports “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.”
In 2016, an international arbitration panel ruled in favor of the Philippines after a years-long dispute with China regarding sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea.
Aside from the putting the country's map on passports, the committee also approved a discount of 32 percent for senior citizens on passport application and processing fees as well as the online application of seniors for passport issuance and renewal.