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National

DFA-Clark consular office to move to MarQuee Mall

InterAksyon.com
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, Philippines -- An 800-square-meter fecility in Ayala Land Inc.'s upscale MarQuee Mall in Angeles City will soon host the Department of Foreign Affairs' consular office in Clark Field, Pampanga after DFA and ALI signed a memorandum of agreement for the transfer of the DFA statellite office to the Ayala mall. 

DFA Secretary Albert del Rosario and ALI president Antonino Aquino signed the MOA which would be under Public-Private Partnership (PPP) arrangements on Dec. 16. 

The agreement with Ayala Land subsidiary North Beacon Commercial Corp. is the third PPP agreement the DFA entered into. Earlier, DFA signed similar agreements with Robinsons Land Corp. and Pacific Mall Corp. for the hosting of 10 consular offices nationwide.

The transfer to MarQuee Mall is expected to save the government at least P50 million over five years, del Rosario said following the signing ceremonies attended by Aquino and vice president and Commercial Business Group Head of Operations Rowena Tomeldan.

The P50 million savings is in addition to the P250 million that the DFA will save over 10 years as a result of the other PPP arrangements it earlier entered into. 

"But more than just the facelift and the savings, our transfer to first-class facilities in shopping malls underscores the commitment of the DFA to better serve the public by making it more convenient for our people to avail themselves of passport and other consular services," del Rosario said.

According to del Rosario, the new consular office, to be located on the third level of MarQuee Mall, will be much larger than its present location inside Clark Field, and is going to be designed to serve as many as 600 applicants from Central and Northern Luzon and Metro Manila every day.

"Given its proximity to the metropolis, we can expect our MarQuee facility to help decongest the main passport processing center at the Office of Consular Affairs along Macapagal Avenue in Paranaque City," he said.

DFA in other malls nationwide

"By next year, we hope to be able to conclude ongoing negotiations and enter into similar arrangements with other friends in the private sector that would allow them to host our remaining consular offices and as well as future facilities that we will open in Metro Manila and other underserved areas of the country," the DFA secretary said

He said that the applying public will be serviced in more modern, applicant-friendly consular offices that will be in place in major shopping centers across the country starting in the first quarter of next year.

Passport applicants in the Central Visayas will be the first to experience this new service when the P13.5-million Regional Consular Office in Mandaue City, Cebu, is officially inaugurated next month.

This will be followed by the formal opening of consular offices in Pampanga, General Santos, Lipa, Tacloban, and Quezon City.

"We will also be expanding our services to other areas in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao in partnership with the private sector," del Rosario said.