DFA inaugurates first passport office in Cebu mall

A February 29, 2012 press release from the Department of Foreign Affairs

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) formally unveiled the first of several passport offices it will open in shopping malls nationwide with the formal inauguration of its new regional consular office (RCO) in Cebu on February 28.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. Del Rosario led the local government officials led by Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia and members of the consular corps in inaugurating the P15-million consular office located at the fourth level of the Gaisano-owned Metro Pacific Mall along United Nations Avenue in Mandaue City.

“What we have here in DFA-Cebu is the first of its kind outside Metro Manila—a first-class consular facility that offers world-class service to the people of the Central Visayas,” Secretary Del Rosario said.

According to the Foreign Affairs Secretary, the new 800-square-meter facility, which was patterned after the new Office of Consular Affairs Building along Macapagal Avenue in Paranaque, will also serve as the flagship of all DFA consular offices in the Visayas.

“Passport applicants are guaranteed a faster and more efficient service in a modern, more convenient setting at no additional cost to them,” Secretary del Rosario stated, noting that unlike its previous location, the new DFA Cebu office will now allow the public access to various amenities such as adequate parking, restrooms, food outlets, a supermarket, and retail stores.

The inauguration of DFA Cebu comes four months after Secretary Del Rosario and Pacific Mall President Edward Gaisano formally entered into arrangements for the transfer and hosting of the consular office that was previously located in Cebu City. The arrangements with Pacific Mall will allow the DFA to save as much as P40 million in operational and other costs over ten years.

Aside from Pacific Mall, the DFA also entered into Public-Private Partnership (PPP) arrangements with Robinsons Land Corporation, Ayala Land Incorporated and SM Prime Holdings for the hosting of another 15 consular offices in Metro Manila and other parts of the country. The arrangement is expected to save the government P1.04 billion in operational and other costs over a ten-year period.

“I would like to assure the applying public that despite the improved facilities and services resulting from these arrangements, the cost of the Philippine passport will remain the same and the price of our passport will remain among the cheapest in the world,” he stated.

Secretary 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. He said the DFA wants all its existing consular offices in the provinces to be serving the public in shopping malls in major cities nationwide by 2014.

In addition to Pacific Mall, the DFA also entered into arrangements with Robinsons Land Corporation for the hosting of existing consular offices in San Fernando, Pampanga; Bacolod; Iloilo; Tacloban; General Santos; and Quezon City and the opening of extension offices in Laoag, Lipa, and Dumaguete under the same Public-Private Partnership arrangements.

The DFA also has similar arrangements with Ayala Land Incorporated for the hosting of its satellite office at Clark Field at the MarQuee Mall in Angeles City and with SM Prime Holdings for the hosting of its consular offices in Baguio, Batangas, and Davao and extension offices at the SM Megamall and SM City in Manila.

Secretary Del Rosario said most of these passport processing facilities will be operational by June this year.