In a photo taken September 22, 2013 during a passport outreach mission conducted by the Vancouver Philippine Consul General in Red Deer, a mixture of those who are awaiting to be called and those who are “chance” applicants, clog up the hallway of a hotel. Passport missions, which require an online registration to grab a slot fill up quickly, forcing other Filipinos to come in case of vacated slots. PHOTO BY JHONG DE LA CRUZ
Philippine Consulate opens in Alberta
A new Philippine Consulate will open at the end of this month in Calgary, Alberta, The Philippine Daily Inquirer reports.
Quoting Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) sources, the report says the new consul is Julius Torres, currently Assistant Secretary of the department. He is due to arrive on February 23.
According to Torres, the office will be fully operational by March and will offer services including passport application and renewals, notarials, document authentication, among others.
The opening has been long in coming after years of demand from Alberta’s 120,000 Filipinos to have the service available. It will also serve Sakatchewan.
Both provinces have been previously served by outreach services from the Vancouver and Toronto consulates.
In a telephone interview by PDI, Torres said Calgary was eyed because of the concentration of Filipinos in the area. The city is home to more than 40,000 Filipinos according to the 2011 census. The city was also chosen to bolster relations with commercial establishments, major industries and other diplomatic offices located in the area, he said.
Torres has 35 years in foreign service experience starting in 1981. He is currently serving as the DFA assistant secretary for Middle East and African Affairs, but has previously served several leadership roles in Philippine posts in Jordan, Hawaii, Romania, Brussels, Belgium, Palau, Saipan, Toronto and Australia.
Calls to open an Alberta-based Philippine consular office renewed in 2013 when Migrante Alberta led a petition signing that gathered 6,000 signatures.
This was followed by the formation of Alberta Coalition for Consular Office in the city of Edmonton composed of private individuals, non-government organizations and Filipino cultural groups.
Clarizze Truscotte, Coalition for Consular Office member said in an interview that although her group lauds the fruition of their campaign, she is hoping that the move is not geared towards gathering votes for the administration’s party in the upcoming election.
“We are glad the Philippine government is finally paying attention to our needs here but we hope this is not to garner votes from Filipino migrants,” she said. Truscotte said that her group would keep a close watch on the progress of the new consular office.
Torres said the new consular office’s role in the election would be to account for all the votes under its jurisdiction and submit the numbers to the Vancouver consulate.