MANILA, Philippines—No more long, long queues for passport applicants. Here comes world class consular services at SM Malls.
It won’t take long before Filipinos would take the word “malling” as synonymous with shopping, eating in restaurants, having fun — and now passport processing.
With the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) opening its first consular satellite office at SM Megamall in Ortigas business district, Filipinos could now experience faster, more convenient, and more accessible means of availing passport related services.
“For the DFA, today’s event is special to us not only because we are opening a new consular office, but also because today, we are reaffirming our commitment to improve our passport services and to bring our services closer to the public,” DFA Undersecretary for Administration Rafael Seguis said during Friday’s inaugural rites for the DFA-NCR east office.
Seguis, together with other DFA Officials, local government officials of Mandaluyong, and Senior Executives of the SM group of companies led by SM Supermalls President Anne Garcia, attended the event that marked the formal opening of the office.
Deal to save government billions
DFA-NCR East is part of the DFA’s initiative to transfer its passport offices to shopping malls nationwide under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) scheme.
Last January 16, Foreign Affairs Secretary Del Rosario signed a Memorandum Oo Agreement (MOA) with SM Prime Holdings President Hans Sy for the hosting in SM malls of five consular offices in Metro Manila — a deal which is set to generate more than P1 billion in savings for the government.
In an interview, Seguis said that the construction of the offices and its facilities would all be paid for by the mall. DFA would only be paying for the electricity consumption of the machines, he said.
The PPP arrangement would also cover the construction of over 3,400 square meters offices for consular services in malls in Davao, Baguio, and Batangas and the opening of extension offices at SM City in Manila.
Hassle-free, world class service
Located on the 7th floor of SM Megamall’s newly opened building C, the 1300 square meter DFA NCR EAST Office is expected to accommodate around 1,000 applicants a day for services such as New Passport Application, Passport Renewal, and Replacement of Passport. It also offers Authentication services.
“The office is very spacious. It is also very convenient for Filipinos, especially for those leaving near the mall like those from Pasig, or from the East. It is easier for them to go here, plus they could do their shopping while applying for passports. It’s good for the Filipino family,” Seguis said.
The office features modern equipment like an organized electronic cuing system, and state of the art facilities for encoding, payment, courier, and other services.
“We also have more than 25 efficient personal trained for public service,” Seguis said.
“Managed ‘yong crowd dahil by appointment ang services, we are not only servicing passport but also authentication services, ‘yon ang added feature ng satellite office ,” he added.
Seguis and other DFA officials also encouraged applicants to schedule their applications for easy facilitation, saying that only applicants with scheduled appointments, persons with disabilities (PWDs), Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and senior citizens with valid proof of age shall be accommodated.
“One’s application can be finished in an hour or less while Seniors, PWDs and OFWs are guaranteed to finish their application in 45 minutes,” said DFA Passport Division Director Andre Estanislao in a statement.
“Two hundred applicants a day can be accommodated for the Authentication service. Walk-in applicants are also accepted,” he added.
Starting September 3, DFA-NCR East shall be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Mondays to Saturdays, for both processing and releasing and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sundays for releasing only.