No passport? Get a sched and head to the mall

Metro Manila residents may shop and dine while queuing for passports as the Department of Foreign Affairs' (DFA) opens its new consular office at SM Megamall.

The DFA-NCR East consular office, located at the 7th floor of the Mandaluyong City mall's newly constructed Building C, is first of several passport offices the government is planning to open in shopping malls nationwide, the DFA said Monday.

"The opening of DFA-NCR East is the continuing fruition of the President and the Secretary of Foreign Affairs’ commitment to bringing world class and convenient service to the public," Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Refael Seguis said in the statement.

The new passport office will accept 1,000 applicants daily and is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. for both processing and releasing Mondays to Saturdays, and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for releasing only on Sundays.

"Only applicants with scheduled appointments and senior citizens with valid proof of age shall be accommodated," the DFA said.

The DFA in January signed a memorandum of agreement with  mall operator SM Prime Holdings for five consular offices in SM malls in the country.

Aside from the Megamall passport office, the agreement also involves the transfer consular offices in Davao, Baguio and Batangas to SM Malls in the areas, and the opening of an extension offices at SM City in Manila.

The initiative is expected to result in over P1 billion in government savings while "achieving its objective of bringing consular services closer to the public," the DFA said.

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