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Still no word on PH Consulate shutdown; DFA assures needs of Filipinos in CNMI
Posted by Yel Cobile, IT Admin & Correspondent on March 5, 2012, 6:10 am

(By Clarissa David, Saipan  Tribune, 5 March 2012)

The Department of Foreign Affairs in the Philippines has yet to make any official announcement about the possible shutdown of the Philippine Consulate General on Saipan for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands but vowed to put into consideration the needs of the Filipino workers who are currently here.

Consul General Medardo Macaraig said yesterday that DFA has not informed him of any final decision they have made.

"But I was assured that whatever decision that will be made on this matter, the needs of the Filipino community will be considered," Macaraig told Saipan Tribune.

The Philippine Consulate General on Saipan is reportedly among the foreign posts that DFA plans to close down by the end of 2012.

At least 10 embassies and consulates will be affected by the agency's efforts to "rationalize" its limited resources. These other posts have been identified as the consulates general in Barcelona, Frankfurt, and Saipan and the embassies in Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Poland, Romania, Palau, and Sweden.

Although there's no saying if and when the closure will be finalized, Macaraig expressed hope that he will hear from DFA before his regular meeting with Filipino community leaders next week.

"Hopefully, there will be a decision before I meet with the Filipino community. Once the decision is finalized, I will announce it during the meeting," he added.

Macaraig noted that while there are officials within DFA who support shutting down these consulates and embassies, there are also those who do not believe that closing down is the best option for Filipino communities in affected jurisdictions.

It has been reported that the Filipino community in Palau has already begun circulating a petition to keep the diplomatic post there open. Other Filipino workers have resorted to social media such as Facebook to oppose the closure of these offices.

Bong Malasarte, president of the United Filipino Organization, the umbrella organization of some 30 Filipino groups in the CNMI, said Thursday that they would want the continued services of the Philippine consulate on Saipan.

According to Malasarte, having a consulate on island is advantageous to Filipino workers who will directly benefit from their services.

"If they're here, they can directly help Filipino workers who are in need of assistance. The consulate is beneficial for all of us," he said.

Should the consulates on both Saipan and Palau close down, Filipino workers can avail of consular services at the nearest consulate in Agana, Guam.


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