United Filipino Organization president Bong Malasarte said that they will continue to wait until September for an official response or action from Philippine government authorities regarding a petition to retain the services of the Philippine Consulate General on Saipan.
Malasarte noted that while they remain optimistic, he also acknowledged that time is running out as the last day of the Consulate draws near.
The Consulate General announced in February the decision of the Department of Foreign Affairs to close down their office due to budgetary constraints.
UFO, the umbrella organization of some 30 Filipino groups in the Commonwealth, initiated a petition that collected about 5,300 signatures from Filipinos living and working on the islands in hopes of preventing the imminent closure of the Consulate General after its last day on Oct. 31.
As of last week, the petition that was sent to various Philippine government offices was only acknowledged by the office of Sen. Loren Legarda, who chairs the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and the Office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Malasarte disclosed that they received yesterday a written response sent by postal mail from the Presidential Action Center under the Office of the President in Malacañang, Manila.
The letter, signed by Director Bobby V. Dumlao, referred the petition to chief of staff Blesila Cabrera of the Department of Foreign Affairs Office of the Secretary.
“We want to make this public so that those who signed the petition would know that the document has been received by the concerned government offices,” Malasarte told Saipan Tribune. “At this point, we are only waiting to hear from the Department of Foreign Affairs because even the Office of the President has referred our petition to them.”
Malasarte emphasized that they are constantly following up with DFA on the petition through international phone calls and with the assistance of Manila-based UFO members.
“While we remain optimistic that DFA would take action on our appeal, it is only apt that we continue with our lives the way we have since the announcement of the closure,” he noted.
Since the closure is not until after Oct. 31, Malasarte pointed out that they can continue to wait for an answer from DFA until September.
“We've already heard from the others, so I am certain that we will hear from DFA,” he added.