Foreign Affairs office’s transfer is public-private partnership output-A A +A
Saturday, September 15, 2012
THE transfer of Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Regional Consular Offices is in line with the government's flagship Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program, a top official said.
Jaime Victor Ledda, assistant secretary of the DFA's Office of Consular Affairs, during the inauguration of DFA Mindanao Office and RCO at SM City Davao, said the PPP program of President Benigno Aquino III's administration makes the transfer possible in its bid to offer convenience to the public.
He said DFA secretary Albert Del Rosario and the executives of SM Prime Holdings forged partnership through a memorandum of agreement (MOA) early January 16, this year, allowing the transfer of at least five regional consular offices to SM Malls.
DFA undersecretary Rafael Seguis said the department is looking at opening 11 more mall-based regional consular offices before yearend not only in SM but also in Robinson's Malls, Gaisano Malls, and Ayala Malls.
Other four DFA regional consular offices were previously opened in Marquee Mall in Angeles City in Pampanga, Metro Pacific Mall, Robinsons Starmills, and SM Megamall.
Next week, DFA consular in General Santos City will be transferred to Robinsons Place.
He added that DFA regional consular office in Davao City is able to process around 3,000 passport applications since its soft opening on September 1.
He added that the government will be saving some P1.04 billion for all the consular offices in regions within 10 years since the government is occupying the office spaces for free for 10 years.
Annie Garcia, president of SM Supermalls, said all their malls are open for partnerships with the government in terms of hosting other government agencies' offices.
SM Prime Holdings has 45 malls all over the country.
She added SM Supermalls is also looking at offering the people the services, not only shopping and buying the products of the mall.
She said SM City Davao is already the second SM Mall to open a DFA regional consular office next to SM Megamall, which had its inauguration on August 31.
The DFA-Mindanao Office and regional consular office have a total area of 3,400 square meters, which is occupying a bigger space at the third level of SM City.
The department is also optimistic to exceed last year's number of processed passport applications in Davao after transferring its office from Jacinto Street to SM City Davao.
Ledda said the agency recorded a total of 216,274 passport issuances last year in Mindanao. Of the total figure, 68,413 of those came from Davao City.
"Davao is hitting almost 75 percent of their output, We're hopeful that with the transfer of the office, we can exceed what we did last year," he said.
He said DFA Regional Consular Office in Davao City recorded already 50,200 from January to August, this year. He said in two months time, the regional consular office-Davao will be able to surpass the number of passport issuances.
He added the expected growth can be attributed to the people's need to travel abroad for work-related trips or family reunions.
DFA in Davao will be opened from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Mondays to Fridays.
However, she said, in previous report, applicants can expect an extended period in processing passport applications because the office is not yet in full operation, until the internet connection is installed.
For express passport applications, the processing period is from 10 working days to 15 working days while regular passports are processed from 20 working days to 25 working days.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on September 16, 2012.