Foreign affairs opens consular office in SM Baguio mall-A A +A
By JM Agreda
Thursday, September 27, 2012
THE Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) recently transferred and opened a consular office at SM City Baguio last Monday to provide convenience to their clients.
DFA regional consular officer Edgar Canta said their recent transfer inside the mall is part of the Public-Private Partnerships initiated by the government, particularly their agency, with malls nationwide.
Canta said SM City Baguio is just among several malls in the country such as Ayala, Robinsons, and other malls that have opened their doors to DFA consular offices.
Through a Memorandum of Agreement entered with the malls, Canta said they are able to save from rent in the next five years with the leased spaces provided for them and estimated these savings to some P10 billion in rentals as their consular offices will be transferring inside malls.
In the region, he said it is only SM City Baguio that has complied with the required needed space provided to the agency for free and they are only going to pay for their electric and water and other utility expenses.
Now that they are located inside the mall, DFA can cater to more clients at convenient hours from 10 a.m. when the mall opens until 8 p.m. from Monday to Saturday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Sunday, Canta said.
The agency is now on its soft opening until October 1 when they will be able to have formal inauguration with an assurance that they already have solved glitches and other office transfer problems.
He said they are now finding ways to speed-up their service as their needed lease line connection for the processing of passports in Manila has not yet arrived and is now being augmented only through local internet connection when sending applications for e-passports.
He said once they get approval for their additional seven plantilla positions, they will be doubling the clients they are serving from 200 passport applicants to 400 applicants in the next few months.
DFA clients are now protected from the weather and can also gain access to other mall stalls to shop or dine while waiting for the release of their passports since they are now conveniently located inside the mall, he said.
“They are assured that while waiting for their turn to transact with DFA, they will be given transaction number and queue number to ensure orderliness,” he said.
He said they are still working out with the mall management for a holding area for those lining up to their office to further improve their services.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on September 28, 2012.