Applying for a passport in PHL? Go to the mall
Applying for a passport in the Philippines? No problem, go to the shopping mall.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Thursday said one of the agency's programs to improve the country's passport processing system includes setting up consular offices in shopping malls nationwide.
This will help applicants avoid long queues at the DFA main office in Pasay City, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario during the 114th founding anniversary of the DFA.
He said the DFA Office of Consular Affairs (OCA) is drafting a new set of guidelines to make the passport application process simpler and easier.
One of the targets of the guidelines was the opening of the first 13 consular offices in Metro Manila and other key cities before the end of the year.
The ongoing transfer of DFA consular offices to shopping malls nationwide is under Public-Private Partnership arrangements.
The DFA recently entered into memoranda of agreement with private firms operating a chain of malls nationwide, including SM Prime Holdings, Ayala Land, Robinsons Land Corporation and Pacific Mall Corporation.
“These arrangements with our mall partners will not only involve a total makeover of our consular facilities but will also allow us to offer improved services in settings that offer comfort and convenience to the applying public,” Del Rosario said.
Del Rosario said this will decentralize government functions and save the government an estimated P1.04 billion in operating and other costs in the next 10 years.
Despite the improvement in consular services, the DFA has no plans of increasing its passport fees, currently pegged at P950 for regular processing and P1,200 for expedited processing.
Under the new guidelines, the OCA also has until December 31 to put in place a call center that would enable passport applicants to choose their appointment date and time at any of its consular offices nationwide.
"This appointment system and other measures that the DFA has been taking during the past several months will significantly reduce if not eliminate the long lines that have been associated with the passport application process,” Del Rosario said.
The new guidelines also required all DFA mall-based offices to operate beyond regular office hours from Mondays to Saturdays to accommodate applicants who could not be absent from work or school.
The offices would also be open for three hours on Sunday to accommodate applicants.
With the new measures, del Rosario said passport applicants, especially those in the provinces, no longer need to go to DFA offices as early as midnight just to make sure that their applications would be accepted and processed.
“All the steps we have been taking during the past several months are in line with our commitment to bring government closer to the people,” Del Rosario said. - VVP, GMA News