The eighth mall-based consular office of the Department of Foreign Affairs was inaugurated at Robinsons Place Lipa yesterday, September 27.
Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Rafael E. Seguis led the inauguration of the facility along with Foreign Affairs Senior Special Assistant Rowena Sanchez, Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Raul S. Hernandez, Foreign Affairs Executive Director for Consular Affairs Wilfredo C. Santos, Robinsons Land Corporation General Manager Arlene G. Magtibay, and Lipa City Mayor Chief-of-Staff Atty. Virgilio Macasaet, Jr.
DFA – Lipa City is the fourth of consular office of the Department in Robinsons Malls. The first was in opened in Robinsons Starmills in Pampanga, followed by Robinsons Galleria in Quezon City then in General Santos City which was inaugurated last week.
Public-Private Partnership: DFA and Robinsons Malls
The DFA office in Robinsons Place Lipa is the first consular office that transferred to a mall in South Luzon. “The consular offices in shopping malls enable us to further improve and expand the scope of our services in courtesy of our people,” DFA Undersecretary Seguis said.
The Undersecretary furthered that the DFA is now able to do that through their partnership with Robinsons Land Corporation, in more comfortable and more convenient world-class facility. He also pointed out that this is “the remarkable outcome from the Aquino administration’s initiative to utilize public-private partnerships, which Secretary del Rosario has implemented in the DFA, to improve the delivery of our [DFA] services to the Filipino public”.
“The DFA office is a very vital component of what we call the Robinsons Malls Lingkod Pinoy Center. The Robinsons Malls Lingkod Pinoy Center is the flagship public service program of Robinsons Malls which aims to make it easier and more convenient for the ordinary Filipino to transact business in various government agencies,” said Ms. Arlene Magtibay.
Lipa City Mayor Meynard Sabili, through his Chief of Staff Atty. Macasaet, extended his support in all the government agencies which will open their offices in Lipa City. Atty. Macasaet also expressed that the opening of DFA satellite office in Lipa is one way of alleviating unemployment in the city. Currently, there are 13 employees in DFA’s Robinsons Place Lipa office.
DFA – Lipa City Passport Services
DFA-Lipa City is headed by Officer-in-Charge Glenn F. Corpin.
The DFA consular office in Robinsons Place Lipa can accommodate 200 to 300 passport applicants a day. The processing should run between 13 to 15 minutes only. One should first check the official website of DFA for appointment before they visit any consular office.
As in any mall-based DFA offices nationwide, the one in Robinsons Place Lipa will follow mall-operating hours — from 10am to 8pm. Processing and releasing of passports will be done from Monday to Saturday at the given mall hours. Sunday is meant for passport releasing only and the office will be open from 10am to 2pm.
Usec. Seguis shared that eventually, all of DFA offices will be transferred to malls.
This move allows more people to access their passport services with comfort and convenience. They can stroll around the mall while waiting for their scheduled appointment.
“Malling is now synonymous to passporting”, Usec. Seguis expressed.
When asked about the kind of service they will render in mall-based DFA offices, Usec. Seguis said it would be faster in terms of processing, and the people should always be smiling – “service with a smile”, the Undersecretary conveyed.
Robinsons Malls Lingkod Pinoy Centers
The Lingkod Pinoy Centers bring together various government offices such as DFA, NBI, PhilHealth, LRA, LTO, SSS, GSIS, PAGIBIG, and DoT.
“We intend to roll this out in all Robinsons malls all over the country. Basically this was conceptualized by our president, Mr. Frederick Go, with the idea of bringing together under one roof the various government agencies the public heavily transact with,” said Ms. Magtibay.
Currently, there are 9 Lingkod Pinoy Centers in different Robinsons Malls and they are planning to open 12 more within a year’s time. Different Lingkod Pinoy Centers may have different government agencies depending on the willingness of these agencies to open a facility in that particular location as they may have a nearby office outside the mall.
These agencies in Lingkod Pinoy Centers follow mall hours and there is no add-on cost for their services. The mall does not impose surge charges for making these services available in their mall. People get the same service, in fact even better. This is one avenue for Robinsons Land Corporation to go into PPP in a meaningful way.