MANILA, Philippines – A new regional consular office (RCO) has been inaugurated in a shopping mall in Cebu last Tuesday, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) announced.
“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,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario said.
The inauguration of the P15 million consular office located at the fourth level of the Gaisano-owned Metro Pacific Mall along United Nations Avenue in Mandaue City will also serve as 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," del Rosario said.
The inauguration comes 4 months after 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 10 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 10-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.
Del Rosario 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.
Secretary Del Rosario said most of these passport processing facilities will be operational by June this year.