MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) announced on Monday that at least 14 mall-based passport offices in shopping malls across the country would be serving the public by the end of the year.
“Before the end of the year, we will have at least 14 mall-based passport offices serving the public in Metro Manila and other parts of the country. By 2014, we should have 30 such facilities operating in shopping malls across the country,” Secretary Albert del Rosario said during the inauguration of the new DFA consular office at the MarQuee Mall in Angeles City.
In a statement, the DFA noted that the newly inaugurated office in Angeles City was the third mall-based consular facility in the country. The other two newly opened mall-based passport offices are located at the Pacific Mall in Cebu, and Robinsons Starmills in San Fernando, Pampanga.
“Our new consular facility here at MarQuee Mall is the result of an out-of-the-box formula that the DFA pursued last year to make our services more accessible to the public,” Secretary del Rosario said.
Del Rosario added that the mall-based passport services facility was the result of the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) arrangements the DFA entered into with Pacific Mall Corporation, Robinsons Land Corporation, Ayala Land Incorporated and SM Prime Holdings.
“Our PPPs with our partners not only allowed the Department to provide much-needed comfort and convenience to passport applicants but also saved for the national government an initial P1.14 billion in operating costs over the next 10 years,” Del Rosario added.
The statement noted that DFA Angeles was one of the largest mall-based consular offices of the DFA with a floor area of 811 square meters. It said the facility was configured to accommodate at least 500 passport applicants per day.
Del Rosario said that by December, at least 11 more mall-based passport offices in shopping malls nationwide would be opened. The said offices would be located at the Robinsons Galleria, Robinsons Lipa, Robinsons Bacolod, Robinsons Dumaguete, Robinsons General Santos, SM Megamall, SM Manila, SM Baguio, SM Davao, Pacific Mall Legazpi and Metro Gaisano Alabang.
Del Rosario also said that the public could also look forward to the opening of passport offices in Laoag, Batangas, Iloilo, Tacloban, Puerto Princesa, Butuan and Cagayan de Oro before 2014.
“As part of our efforts to further serve the public, these mall-based consular offices will process passport applications from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Mondays to Saturdays. We will also be open half-days on Sundays to let applicants claim their passports,” Del Rosario said.
Last month, the DFA issued new guidelines for making the passport application process simpler and easier, giving the DFA Office of Consular Affairs until December 31 to to put in place a dedicated call center that would allow passport applicants to choose the date and time they would like to be accommodated in any DFA consular office nationwide.
“With this, we hope to finally be able to deal with the long lines that have become synonymous with the passport application process,” Del Rosario said.