THE Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) will vacate temporarily its headquarters along Roxas Boulevard in Pasay next year to pave the way for the retrofitting of its 50-year old building.
The building, considered as one of the country’s national cultural properties, has been declared unsafe as it no longer conforms to the safety standards of the National Structural Code, National Building Code, Philippine Electrical Code and Fire Code. In 2021, then DFA Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. described the DFA headquarters as “crumbling.”’
Donated to the DFA by the Asian Development Bank, the building has become the home of Filipino diplomats where they host heads of states, dignitaries, as well as passport applicants and families of OFWs seeking help.
The DFA did not elaborate on the need to retrofit the building nor the plan during the Senate budget hearing Tuesday. It has already done so in 2019 and has been given the go-signal by Congress in 2020. When the pandemic came, the money intended for the retrofitting was re-allocated for the repatriation of thousands of OFWs who lost their jobs.
For next year, the department is reviving this long-overdue overhaul of the building and has asked money for Congress anew. The bill this time is P1.7 billion.
DFA Assistant Secretary Domingo Nolasco said they need P1 billion for the department to temporarily relocate its headquarters to another building and another P445 million for its retrofitting.
The DFA plans to relocate to one of the properties of DoubleDragon in Pasay City, sources said. At the height of the pandemic in 2021, the DFA leased the DoubleDragon Plaza along Macapagal Boulevard for the release of passport booklets.
But another source said the relocation building would still be subject to a bidding process.
Retrofitting of a building usually takes years. In the case of the DFA building, since it is a cultural property, it also needs the National Historical Commission to delist it or allow it to be retrofitted.
For 2024, the DFA is requesting a total of P23.905 billion budget for the operation of its diplomacy and consular work. This is a 50 percent increase from its 2023 budget, Nolasco said.