MANILA, Philippines -- Filipinos can soon get their passports at SM malls after the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) signed a deal to transfer its passport offices to SM shopping malls.
On Monday, Foreign Secretary Albert F. del Rosario and SM Prime Holdings president Hans Sy signed a memorandum of agreement for the hosting in SM malls of five consular offices in Metro Manila and in other parts of the country.
The DFA said it will generate more than P1 billion in savings from the deal, as well as bring consular services closer to the public.
According to del Rosario, the deal with SM will cover the transfer and hosting of existing consular offices in Davao, Baguio and Batangas and the opening of extension offices at the SM Megamall in Mandaluyong and SM City in Manila, which will occupy a combined floor area of more than 3,400 square meters.
The DFA had earlier entered into similar arrangements with Pacific Mall Corp., Robinsons Land Corp.and Ayala Land Inc. for the hosting of consular offices in 11 other locations nationwide.
"In addition to the millions of pesos the government will be saving in the next 10 years, our partnership with SM and our other friends in the private sector will allow us to extend consular services in modern, applicant-friendly settings at no cost to the Filipino taxpayer," del Rosario said, calling the arrangement a public-private partnership deal.
The opening of the first two passport extension offices in Metro Manila, del Rosario said, would allow the DFA to facilitate the consular requirements of some of the more than 10,000 people that visit the main passport facility along Macapagal Avenue daily.