DFA To Transfer Consular Offices In Malls

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) announced recently that it will soon start transferring its Regional Consular Offices (RCOs) to shopping malls around the country.

DFA in Malls
The move will not only further improve the delivery of passport services, but also save millions of pesos for the government as well, the foreign affairs department said. It is expected to save the government over P250 million in the next 10 years.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario in a statement said the DFA expects to begin transferring the first of nine regional and extension offices to some of the country's leading mall operators that are covered under Private-Public Partnership arrangements before the end of the year.

“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,” Secretary del Rosario said.

Secretary del Rosario said 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 6 of the 18 existing DFA regional consular and extension offices and two new regional offices.

He said the arrangements will help the government realize savings of more than P25 million annually in rent and other operating expenses.

The Foreign Affairs Secretary added 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.

A Memorandum of Agreement was entered by the DFA with Robinsons Land for the transfer and long-term hosting of the RCO in Pampanga, the biggest and busiest among DFA offices nationwide, to a P23-million facility at the Robinsons Starmills in San Fernando.

The agreement also covers the RCOs in Bacolod, Batangas, General Santos, Iloilo, and Tacloban and the extension office at the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) in Quezon City. It also includes arrangements for the hosting of new consular offices in Laoag and Dumaguete, the DFA said.

Same arrangements with Pacific Mall Corporation for the transfer and hosting of the RCO in Cebu was likewise entered by the DFA earlier. The P13.5-million facility at the fourth level of the Pacific Mall in Mandaue City is expected to start operations in December.

“When we open our doors, the applying public can look forward not only to world-class facilities but also to world-class services that we constantly strive to deliver,” del Rosario stressed.

“The new Regional Consular Offices in Cebu and Pampanga are going to be a far cry from existing DFA consular facilities in other parts of the country and are guaranteed to be something that the Filipino passport applicant will be proud of,” Secretary del Rosario stated, adding that the Pampanga and Cebu passport facilities will be at par with the main passport processing facility at the Office of Consular Affairs Building along Macapagal Avenue in Parañaque.

In addition to the regional offices covered under arrangements with Robinsons Land and Pacific Mall, the DFA said it also maintains passport processing offices in Baguio, La Union, Tuguegarao, Clark Field, Lucena, Puerto Princesa, Cagayan de Oro, Butuan, Zamboanga and Cotabato.

Serving as many as 10,000 persons daily, the RCOs have so far generated P568.5 million in income this year, compared to P954.6 million recorded in 2010, the DFA added.