Need passport? Go to the mallBy Tina G. Santos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Filipinos planning to go abroad may soon apply for passports at malls.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Friday announced that it will soon start moving its regional consular offices to shopping malls around the country in a bid to improve passport services, and save the government millions of pesos as well.
“With this move, the DFA is taking a big leap forward as it can now more effectively deliver consular services to the public in modern, more applicant-friendly settings at very little cost to the government,” DFA Secretary Albert del Rosario said in a statement.
He said he expects to begin transferring the first of nine regional and extension offices to some of the country’s leading malls that are covered under Private-Public Partnership arrangements before the end of the year.
“This is expected to save the government over P250 million in the next 10 years,” he added.
The DFA has entered into Memorandums of Agreement with the Gokongwei-owned Robinsons Land Corporation and the Gaisano-owned Pacific Mall Corporation for the transfer and hosting of an initial six of the 18 existing DFA regional consular and extension offices and two new regional offices.
Del Rosario said the arrangements will help the government realize savings of more than P25 million annually in rent and other operating expenses.
He added that negotiations are also ongoing with other mall developers for the transfer and hosting of the remaining regional consular offices as well as the opening of new passport extension offices in Metro Manila.
Serving as many as 10,000 persons daily, the DFA’s regional offices have so far generated P568.5 million in income this year, compared to P954.6 million recorded in 2010.