SUBIC BAY FREEPORT —The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is now considering the establishment of a permanent consular office in this free port to better serve the public in the Subic Bay area and nearby parts of Central Luzon.
DFA Assistant Secretary Neil Frank Ferrer announced this during the agency’s passport processing project that was held last week at the Harbor Point Ayala Mall in partnership with the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA).
“This is our commitment—to bring our services closer to the public, closer to you people. We will not be just an ad hoc passporting on wheels. Our intention is to put up a permanent presence here,” said Ferrer, who joined the DFA team here to coordinate and look for a possible location for an office.
The DFA official added that with a permanent consular office in Subic, the agency will also be able to provide services like document authentication, assistance to nationals, and delayed registration of birth, marriage or death for Filipinos abroad.
“It will be a complete service, like a mini-DFA,” Ferrer said. “We are excited in having that office put up here soon.”
In January last year, SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma said she has requested the DFA to conduct passport processing here at least twice a year and, later on, to establish full consular services at the Subic Bay Freeport.
Eisma made the request after noting the huge number of passport applicants who queue for processing each time a passport-on-wheels team arrived in Subic.
Ferrer said the DFA has already established 34 consular offices across the country.
Recently, it opened seven new consular offices in Malolos, Bulacan; Ilocos Norte; Isabela; San Pablo, Laguna; Antipolo, Rizal; Tagum City, Davao del Norte; and Clarin, Misamis Occidental, he said.
SBMA deputy administrator for administration Ruel John T. Kabigting, who welcomed the DFA group during the passport processing project, said that he has been receiving positive feedback on passport processing events here.
“Applying for a passport in Subic became very convenient for the people because there is no need for them to travel to the regional office or to Manila. And they are thankful for this project,” Kabigting said.
A total of 818 passport applications were processed here in the March 29 project at the Harbor Point, according to the SBMA technical working group for corporate social responsibility (TWG for CSR), which is the prime mover of the mobile passport processing project.
This was the third passport processing project of the SBMA TWG for CSR that was held in cooperation with the DFA, Harbor Point Ayala Mall, and Converge ICT.