Call center eyed for passport application-A A +A
Thursday, July 5, 2012
THE Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) yesterday announced its plan to set up a call center that will make it easier for the public to apply for a passport.
With the call center, passport applicants will have the option to choose the date and time they would like to be accommodated in any consular office across the country.
In a press conference, DFA Undersecretary for Administration Rafael Feguis said the call center will complement the DFA consular offices in shopping malls nationwide under the public-private partnership.
This will save the government some P1.04 billion in operational costs in the next 10 years, he said.
Once operational, Feguis said the proposed call center will significantly reduce, if not eliminate the long lines that passport applicants have been complaining about, particularly in Cebu.
In the same press conference, DFA Special Assistant Elmer Gozun Cato said the agency will open 12 more consular offices in malls in Metro Manila and other key cities in the country, with similar arrangements as that with the Pacific Mall in Mandaue City.
“We require all mall-based offices to operate beyond regular office hours from Mondays to Saturdays to allow them to accommodate applicants who could not afford to be absent from work or school. These offices are also required to open for three hours on Sundays to allow applicants to claim their passports,” Feguis said.
Feguis said a consular office inside a mall may close at 9 p.m. so that those who work will still be able to secure their passport after office hours.
To expedite the transactions, Seguis said the DFA is decentralizing the authentication services to consular offices in Metro Manila, San Fernando in Pampanga, Cebu, and Davao.
With the decentralization, there’s no need for the consular office in Cebu to forward documents that need to be authenticated to their central office in Manila.
The DFA will also conduct special mobile passport services by accepting applications from provinces, so the people will no longer go to consular offices as early as midnight to process their passports.
“The good thing is that despite these improvements in consular services, the passport fees shall remain at P950 for regular processing (up to 25 days) and P1,200 for expedited processing (10 days),” Feguis said.
Meanwhile, Feguis said that the accreditation of travel agencies was renewed by DFA. The renewal of accreditation allows travel agencies to continue assisting applicants until Dec. 31, 2012.
Feguis earlier issued an order that the accreditation of travel agencies will not be renewed by June 30, and that travel agents will no longer be allowed to process passports.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 05, 2012.