Consul General Medardo G. Macaraig is expected to leave Saipan on Oct. 15 to go to his next consular assignment at the Philippine Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Macaraig's departure would come a little over two weeks before the last day of the Philippine Consulate General on Saipan on Oct. 31.
Citing budgetary constraints, the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila in February made the decision to include the Philippine Consulate General on Saipan among the consular posts that will be shut down within the year.
The Consulate will cease operations after more than two decades of serving the Filipino community in the Commonwealth. Its responsibilities will be transferred to the Philippine Consulate General in Agana, Guam, as part of a wider effort to consolidate foreign service posts in the Pacific.
“When I leave Saipan, Consul Gary Auxilian of the Philippine Consulate General in Agana will be here to oversee the remaining days of the Saipan Consulate and deal with administrative matters relating to its closure,” Macaraig told Saipan Tribune in an interview yesterday.
Initially, Macaraig's consular assignment after Saipan was in Washington, D.C. However, his wife's health condition prompted the consul general to seek another assignment in proximity to the Philippines where his wife continues to receive medical treatment.
“The Kuala Lumpur assignment is favorable for me since it's close to the Philippines. Whenever there are down times in my wife's condition, I can just fly back to Manila any time,” he said.
Macaraig will replace Consul General Renato Villa, who also held the diplomatic rank of minister. The embassy in Kuala Lumpur is led by Ambassador Jose Eduardo Malaya III.
Macaraig noted that before his departure, Agana's Consul General Bayani Mangibin will be formally introduced to the Filipino community on Saipan. A separate meeting with Gov. Benigno R. Fitial and other government officials will also be arranged.
“I will maintain my interaction with our kababayans in the CNMI even after I leave. Nevertheless, the official link of the Filipino community will be Consul General Mangibin and the Agana Consulate,” he added.
In other news, the Philippine Consulate General on Saipan will be closed on Monday, Aug. 20, in observance of Eid'l Fitr or the Feast of Ramadhan.
Meanwhile, Aug. 21 and 27 will be special working holidays for the Consulate to honor the death anniversary of Sen. Benigno S. Aquino Jr., the father of President Benigno S. Aquino III, and in celebration of National Heroes Day. During these days, the Consulate will be open to the public only from 9am to 4pm.