Filipinos overseas appeal for more consular services
An official of the Marianas Association of Filipino Engineers and Architects has appealed to the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs and the Philippine Consulate General in Agana, Guam, to resume consular services for Filipinos in the CNMI who are in dire need of its services.
The appeal reflects pandemic-imposed cuts in consular services for visas, legal documents, overseas voter registration as well as “consulate-on-wheels” outreach to Filipino communities worldwide.
In the U.S. and Canada, a petition on Change.Org addressed to Foreign Affairs Sec. Teodoro Locsin Jr. has been circulating, urging the department “to do everything in its power” to increase safe and efficient consular services in order to encourage greater voter participation in 2022.
Carlito Marquez, who is a MAFEA secretary in the CNMI, told Saipan Tribune that Filipino workers’ annual employment in the CNMI is contingent on their passport—and its validity—thus the need to have their passports kept valid so that they could renew their work contracts.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the CNMI has not received consular services for the entirety of 2020, and Filipino workers in the CNMI are in dire need of the assistance that only the Philippine Consulate General in Guam can provide.
“A lot of us here [on] Saipan [have] expired passports, or expiring passports that need to be renewed. We renew our [employment permits] on a yearly basis. We [also] need some other pertinent documents related to our employment,” he said.
Marquez said he and his fellow Filipino workers understand the limitations set in place due to COVID-19, but it is their hope that the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila will allow the Philippine Consulate General Office in Guam to prioritize consular services on Saipan this year.
“It is very unfortunate that due to COVID-19 for the whole year of 2020, no consular visit from Guam took place [on] Saipan. We need your consular services here in Northern Mariana Island,” he added.
Filipinos with CNMI-only work permit cannot travel to Guam, while other Filipino workers are unable to travel because of travel restrictions