MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is slowly moving its satellite offices into shopping malls to decongest its main office and make passport processing easier for the public.
Assistant Secretary Jaime Victor Ledda of the Office of Consular Affairs (OCA) told Radyo Inquirer 990AM in an interview about their plans to gradually introduce DFA satellite offices in shopping malls nationwide.
Ledda said they have opened three satellite offices as of this month and are eyeing 11 more in the coming months.
“The intention is to decongest our offices and to make it convenient to the public. Dumaan ito sa masinsinang usapan at ang aim nito ay pagandahin ang serbisyo namin sa publiko,” Ledda said.
“Kapag isang puwesto lang ang pupuntahan, mas mahirap. The aim is to make it convenient, comfortable and accessible for the public.”
Aside from decongesting the main office of the DFA, Ledda said that they have also reduced the number of days needed to get an appointment from two months to less than seven days. The waiting period for the release of passports has also been shortened from 30 days to 15 days.
Express processing of passports takes only seven days now, shorter than the previous 15 days.
Ledda said their move to offices in shopping centers would also allow the DFA to save P1.14 billion over the next 10 years. A call center dedicated to answering queries of passport applicants is also in the works, he added.
The newest mall-based satellite office was opened Monday in Marquee Mall in Angeles City, following the inauguration of the offices in the Pacific Mall in Mandaue City and Robinsons Starmills in Pampanga.
However, only data capture is done in satellite offices and most of the work in processing and creating passports is done in Metro Manila. The passports are printed by Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas in Quezon City and authenticated by the DFA before they are shipped back to the satellite offices.
“This is for security purposes at para mas madali ang monitoring namin,” Ledda explained.
For more of the interview, listen to Radyo Inquirer 990AM.