By John Mark Escandor
LEGAZPI CITY, 24July2013 (PNA) – Only Sundays and official holidays are the rest days of the Dept. of Foreign Affairs as it gives passport service six times a week to allow applicants who cannot submit requirements on regular office days and Saturdays, a DFA official revealed.
Helen Grace B. Cuisia, DFA Bicol regional director, said DFA opens processing of passport application six days a week, including Saturdays, from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. as she emphasized that even government employees who have only weekends their free time will surely be given their chance to obtain passports, for as long as the proper requirements are submitted.
She said with 23 employees, including herself, the Bicol DFA Office processes 300 passport applications per day, from Monday to Saturday.
Cuisia added that the Saturday service of the DFA for passport application processing compensates for the mobile passport services which had been shelved because of unpredictable number of applicants accessing them.
However, she said, the mobile passport service can still be accessed by local government units through the DFA Manila Office because it involves use of equipment that the regional office does not have.
Cuisia said the service orientation of the DFA at present is “to bring the consular office closer to the people by serving them with a smile and reaching beyond our grasp.”
She recalled that the DFA had even experimented opening on Sundays for releasing the passport but it was impractical because nobody would come on that day.
Cuisia showed how the process was made easy and smooth with booths that process applications and check requirements.
The basic requirements for new passport applicants are birth certificates issued by the National Statistics Office and the municipal registrar where the applicant was born.
Cuisia said they have signing officers who evaluate the requirements and advice the applicant what are still needed, after which the biometrics and photos will be taken and recorded in their data bank.
The applicant is expected to receive the passport after 15 days or 12 days for express processing with fees of P950 and P1,200, respectively.
She said the records and biometrics obtained by the DFA regional office are sent to the databank in their Manila Office which collates all the data and prints the passport.
Cuisia said inconsistencies could delay the release of passports like identity question or previous processes which were not completed.
“The machine that prints the passport automatically suspends once there’s inconsistency from the databank. But we see to it that these inconsistencies are corrected once the Manila Office advise us of the problem in the data,” she explained.
Cuisia said the present DFA office in Bicol at the Pacific Mall in Legazpi City is a private-public partnership with the mall’s owner providing the office space free of rent.
Cuisia said the Bicol DFA Office give service not only to Bicolanos but also to residents from Samar from the Visayas region.(PNA)