MANILA, Philippines?Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo on Monday formally opened the new Office of Consular Affairs of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) at the Aseana Business Park in Parañaque.
The new facility is located at the corner of Bradco and Macapagal avenues, and a few minutes away from the SM Mall of Asia. It will be open to the public in a few weeks.
The 7,000-square meter, four-story building owned by the Development Bank of the Philippines is on lease to the DFA. The new facility will be the home of the ePassport, the electronic authentication system, the electronic visa system, and digitalized consular records system.
An ?intelligent building,? the facility is equipped with fiber-optic lines, CCTV cameras and other high-tech information and communications infrastructure. Made of steel and tempered glass, the modern OCA office departs from the traditional concrete buildings at the DFA main office on Roxas Boulevard.
According to Romulo, the OCA building will set the new standard among government front-line offices, providing the public with fast, efficient, and comfortable service.
He said that consular clients, particularly passport applicants, will now have the comfort of waiting their turn, sitting on ergonomically-designed stainless steel benches. Instead of long queues, he said clients can shorten their wait by accessing the DFA?s online appointment system. In addition, they now only have to move from ground to second floor for their consular applications.
Romulo said the transfer of consular services to another location was part of the ongoing DFA modernization program to further improve its frontline services which include harnessing new technologies in passport and visa issuances and streamlined procedures in the authentication of documents.
During a press conference last week, Romulo said that members of the media on an immediate assignment abroad can avail themselves of the courtesy lane in applying for an e-passport and get the travel document in the shortest possible time, ?probably while they wait.?
Romulo initiated the OCA relocation to make the DFA?s services at par with those of advanced countries and to put the Philippines on high gear towards progress.
Present during the opening were Parañaque City Mayor Florecio M. Bernabe Jr, DFA Undersecretary for Administration Franklin M. Ebdalin, Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs Renato L. Villapando and other officials and guests.
The blessing was officiated by Reverend Fr. Dominador Guzman. After the blessing, OCA officials presented to Romulo the process flow for passport applications in the new building.