CITY OF SAN FERNANDO - Two business leaders urged Tuesday the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to maintain its satellite offices inside Clark Freeport.

Pampanga Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PamCham) President Rene Romero's and Clark Investors and Locators Association (Cila) President Joselito Mercado's calls came after the DFA Regional Consular Office and the NBI formally transferred their base of operations from Clark Freeport to the City Central Transport Terminal and the Regional Government Center here, respectively.

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"Though the move of the NBI and the DFA is beneficial to the general public, both agencies should still maintain satellite offices inside Clark Freeport to serve the needs of locators inside the Freeport and people within Metro Angeles area," Romero said.

He said the presence of the service centers of the two agencies would greatly help in maintaining the status of Clark as a premier freeport.

He said the presence of the agencies here would benefit workers within Clark and neighboring municipalities.

Romero also lauded the move of the DFA to transfer its base of operation in this city.

"This would surely provide more convenience for our people who want to get their passports ready for possible employment abroad. The city is also geographically situated that applicants from Bataan, Nueva Ecija, Bulacan and Tarlac could easy travel to this city to process their passports," Romero said.

Meanwhile, Mercado said the transfer may be inevitable. However, the "impact" of the transfer could be felt in the coming periods to the business activities in Clark Freeport.

Mercado, in an official statement said, during the time of Carmen McTavish, Cila was one of the proponents in lobbying for the transfer of the DFA office from Paskuhan Village to Clark Freeport as part of its advocacy to promote Clark as a business and tourism hub.

Mercado added that the transfer of the two offices also affects the tourism sectors - restaurants, coffee shops, hotels and even the small eatery.

He stressed that Duty-Free shops are currently barely surviving and the major source of their customers are applicants from the two agencies.

Both Mercado and Romero said they would write to the DFA and the NBI to realize the much needed satellite offices.

"We urge the two agencies to keep their satellite office inside the zone even for scheduled-days operations. There are about 57,000 employees inside the zone and include the foreigners and executives that could be processing their passports. It would be inconvenient for them to go to San Fernando," Mercado said.

Both the DFA and the NBI already said they plan to establish satellite offices at Clark. But they have not stated when they could do this. (Ian Ocampo Flora)