DFA consular offices moved to Parañaque City

By DateLine Philippines

First they modernized the passports.  Now, they’re addressing the problem of passport fixers by transferring the consular affairs offices from Pasay City to the Asean business park in Parañaque City, just a few minutes away from the Mall of Asia.

Foreign affairs secretary Alberto Romulo led the turn over ceremony in the DFA consular offices where E-passport, authentication system, electronic visa, and digitalized consular records system will now be processed.

The new location is designed to address passport fraud and proliferation of fixers around the agency’s head office.

Its 7,000-square meter, four storey building facility is made of tempered glass and steel, and comes equipped with fiber-optic lines, CCTV cameras and other high-tech information and communications infrastructure.

Acquired through a loan assistance from the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) totaling P530 million, the consular affairs building was also established in response to the increasing number of passport applicants that surged in early 2008, hitting 10,000 to 12,000 a day, compared to 2,500 to 3,000 daily in 2005.

DFA officials said the increase was largely due to the issuance of machine-readable passports, and later, E-passports.

“Now, we have a passport and a consular building that is efficient, progressive and serviceable, and will give every Filipino ease, comfort and pride. With everyone’s support, the Filipino can be truly world-class,” Romulo said.

He added that passport applicants should check the requirements and secure online appointments through the consular tab of the agency’s official website, http://www.dfa.gov.ph to ensure quick and easy application process.

Romulo said the DFA’s 19 regional consular and satellite offices are also facilitating passport applications.

He admitted that for many decades, Filipino travelers, particularly migrant workers, have long been subjected to “humiliation and embarrassment” because the Philippines is among the few countries left in the world that issues the green hand-scripted passport.

Romulo said with the E-passport system in full swing, Filipino travelers “will no longer have to bear the embarrassment and humiliation of being shunted aside in immigration queues and questioned lengthily on the veracity of their identities and their passports.”

DFA officials said the E-passport was realized in 2008 under the stewardship of then consular affairs office head Domingo Lucenario Jr., who is now the Philippine ambassador to Kenya.

For his achievement, Lucenario received the Sikatuna award from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The program on E-passport complies with the Philippines’ commitment to the United Nations International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) that mandates all member countries to implement machine-readable and E-passport systems by April of this year.

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