DFA opens 2nd Pampanga consular office at Marquee-A A +A
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
ANGELES CITY -- The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) opened on Monday its second regional consular office in Pampanga at the Marquee Mall here to provide passport servicing to one of the country’s top regions with the most number of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
The opening of the new facility at the third floor of the said mall was facilitated by DFA assistant secretary for consular affairs Jaime Victor Ledda, DFA undersecretary for international and economic relations Laura del Rosario, Ayala Land Incorporated senior vice president Bobby Dy, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario and Mayor Edgardo Pamintuan.
Also attending the event were San Fernando Archbishop Paciano Aniceto and Pampanga Governor Lilia Pineda.
DFA Angeles is hosted by Ayala Land and is one of the largest mall-based consular offices of the DFA with a floor area of 811 square meters. The office can accommodate some 500 passport applicants per day.
Del Rosario said that in an effort to serve the public, the mall-based consular office will process passport applications from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Mondays to Saturdays. The consular office will also be open half days on Sundays for passport releases and claims.
“By December, we hope to put in place a dedicated call center that would allow passport applicants to schedule the time and day they prefer to be served at any of our consular locations in Metro Manila and other parts of the country,” Del Rosario said.
The move, Del Rosario said, is part of the DFA’s initiative to deal with long lines and further improve passport servicing.
The agency also recently opened a 995-square-meter facility at Robinsons Starmills here, the biggest in Luzon outside of Metro Manila.
Del Rosario said the DFA expects to generate more savings once it concludes negotiations with its private sector partners for the hosting of its remaining consular offices.
The DFA expects to save some P1.14 billion pesos in operating costs in the next 10 years from the mall-based consular offices.
Good for business
Pampanga Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PamCham) vice chairman Rene Romero lauded the opening of the new consular office, adding it would surely create more commercial activity within the mall.
He said an efficient passporting system will help in facilitating more people who would like to travel or work abroad.
“We are happy that DFA has taught of creating mall-based offices. These offices will surely give applicants enough convenience and accessibility at the comfort of the mall’s premises,” Romero said.
PamCham, along with other supporters of the DFA, has loaned artworks and furniture of the initial operations of the consular offices here and the City of San Fernando.
Romero said they are encouraging the DFA to establish more similar consular offices in other areas of the province and Central Luzon.
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on August 01, 2012.