THE Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) inaugurated its mall-based consular office in a bid to bring passport application services closer to the public.
The transfer of the DFA consular office to Robinsons Mall North from its old location near the provincial capitol aims to provide convenience to applications since the mall is located within the bus terminal complex in Abucay village.
“The regional consular office’s new location promises a more convenient and comfortable passport application experience in line with the DFA’s commitment to make the passport application system faster and easier for the public,” said Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs Frank Cimafranca during the inauguration on April 21.
The new office will have more processing and bio-metric encoding counters to process more applications. Clients will also be able to avail of assistance-to-nationals services at the new consular office.
“Since its transfer to its mall-based location in January, DFA Tacloban has served around 22,000 clients. Our new location has greatly improved the delivery of our services to the public, making it a more comfortable and convenient experience,” DFA Tacloban Acting Officer-in-Charge Dorotea Apostol told reporters.
The consular office can accommodate up to 300 appointments a day, excluding those who avail the courtesy lane such as persons with disability, senior citizens and pregnant women.
Cimafranca added that for the DFA field office to cater to more applicants, they will adding more mobile system for the passport processing in places far from the consular offices.
DFA has four mobile offices. Each mobile system is capable of processing 2,000 passports.
“If we will have passport on wheels, the local government units can request for deployment of the mobile system in their areas,” Cimafranca added.
The DFA also eyes to establish passport offices in every provinces and major cities in the country for a more convenient and comfortable passport application.
DFA Tacloban is the first of at least three consular offices hosted inside Robinsons Malls up for opening this year. Two other consular offices will be inaugurated in San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte, and Santiago, Isabela, in the next several weeks.
DFA and Robinsons Malls inked a memorandum of agreement for the establishment of 14 consular offices in 14 malls in the country.
Other Robinsons Malls with DFA Consular Office include Robinsons Galleria in Ortigas, Robinsons Star Mills in Pampanga, Robinsons General Santos, Robinsons Lipa, Robinsons Place Bacolod, Robinsons Place Iloilo, Robinsons Butuan, Robinsons Place Palawan, Robinsons Place Dumaguete, Robinsons Pangasinan, and Robinsons Novaliches.
The DFA will also open four new consular offices in province surrounding Metro Manila and two in Mindanao region, in the cities of Tagum, Davao del Norte and in Ozamis City.
DFA’s Tacloban office was established in July 13, 2003 as the country’s 11th DFA consular office. In November 2013, the consular office was forced to suspend its operation after the destruction of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) and resumed operations in July 2014. (PNA)