Special Feature: The DFA: Bringing Consular Services Closer To The People
As parts of its efforts to bring government closer to the people, the Department of Foreign Affairs is issuing the following guidelines that wouldallow it to more effectively deliver consular services to the public at no additional cost.
I. MALL-BASED OPERATIONS
1, The Department shall ensure that the following mall-based Regional Consular Offices and Extension Offices that are covered under Public-Private Partnership arrangements are operational and serving the public by 31 December 2012: Baguio; Angeles; San Fernando, Pampanga; Batangas; Lipa; Bacolod; Dumaguete: Cebu; Davao; and General Santos.
2. The Department shall ensure that the following mall-based consular offices in Metro Manila that are covered under Public-Private Partnership arrangements are operational and serving the public by 31 December 2012: SM Megamall; SM City Manila; and Robinsons Galleria.
3. The Department shall pursue and conclude additional Public-Private Partnership arrangements to ensure that most of its remaining consular offices are transferred to shopping malls by 31 December 2013 and that additional extension offices are operational in shopping malls nationwide by 31 December 2014;
4. The Department shall ensure that all mall-based consular offices will follow mall operating hours to serve applicants who could not afford to take a leave from work or be absent from school. Operating hours should be from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. or from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Mondays to Fridays.
5. The Department shall ensure that all mall-based consular offices are open also during mall operating hours on Saturdays to accept and process passport applications and to allow applicants to claim their passports.
6. The Department shall ensure that all mall-based consular offices will be open for three hours on Sundays to allow applicants to claim their passports.
II PASSPORT APPOINTMENT SYSTEM
1. The Department shall develop and put in place an appointment system by 31 December 2012 that would allow the public to schedule by phone their personal appearance for the processing of their applications not just in Metro Manila but in all consular offices nationwide.
III. AUTHENTICATION SERVICES
1. The Department shall ensure that authentication services are made available to the public in all mall-based consular offices in Metro Manila, San Fernando, Pampanga, Cebu and Davao by 31 December 2012.
IV. SPECIAL & MOBILE PASSPORT SERVICES
1. The Department shall shift the focus of its mall-based consular offices in the regions from Mobile Passport Services to Special Passport Services to allow these offices to accommodate more applicants, especially during weekends. Under this service, Local Government Units shall be provided guaranteed slots to allow their constituents to appear in the office on a Saturday for the processing of their passport applications.
2. The Department shall continue to accommodate requests for Mobile Passport Services from Local Government Units nationwide and will send a mobile team from the Office of Consular Affairs in Manila if the host local executives could guarantee a minimum turnout of 500 applicants.
V. ACCREDITATION OF TRAVEL AGENCIES
1. The Department shall extend the deadline of submission of applications for accreditation and renewal of existing accreditation of travel agencies from 30 June 2012 to 31 July 2012.
2. The Department shall allow accredited travel agencies to continue assisting clients until their application for the renewal of their accreditation is acted upon. Once their applications are approved, accredited travel agencies can offer passport assistance services to the public only until 31 December 2012;
3. The Department shall require the national travel agencies associations to certify that each agency applying for accreditation is a legitimate travel agency that offers services other than passport assistance service.
4. The Department shall ensure equal service to all applicants by requiring all to go through the same process, including queuing for their date of appointment, if applicable, processing, payment, encoding and claiming their passports unless they opt for home-delivery by accredited courier;
5. The Department shall allow accredited travel agencies to continue to assist clients, the number of which shall be pegged at 5 percent of the average daily capacity of each consular office, until 31 December 2012;
6. The Department shall not allow travel agency representatives to enter consular premises to accompany or assist their clients;
7. The Department shall require accredited travel agencies to submit along with the passport application form of each applicant a form showing a breakdown of the services rendered and the corresponding fees collected. The form must bear the signature of the passport applicant acknowledging that such fees were made clear to him and that the applicant was made aware that the Department only collects the P1,200.00 in expedited processing fees and nothing more;
8. The Department shall not allow accredited travel agencies from coming out with announcements, advertisements, billboards, posters, leaflets, online postings and other marketing collaterals that may give applicants the impression that they could be processed earlier and faster if they avail themselves of their services;
9. The Department shall ensure that these guidelines also cover authentication services that will be offered in consular offices in the National Capital Region and in San Fernando, Pampanga; Cebu; and Davao.
VI. PUBLIC DIPLOMACY,
1. The Department shall undertake a sustained public diplomacy campaign to more effectively reach out to the public and inform them that concrete measures have been undertaken to further improve the delivery of consular services at no additional cost to them.*