The impending closure of the Philippine Consulate General on Saipan has resulted in the influx of Filipinos availing of consular services in the last few weeks, particularly passport renewal applications.
Consul General Medardo G. Macaraig disclosed in an interview yesterday that passport renewal applications jumped to 40 a day-a 400 percent-increase from their usual daily average of only 10 clients.
Many of the applicants, Macaraig noted, have passports that will not expire until 2013 and 2014.
“With our last day scheduled on Oct. 31, a lot of Filipinos on island are now opting to renew their passports even if they have yet to expire,” he told Saipan Tribune.
The consulate has waived the “formalities” of passport renewal, allowing passport holders whose expiration date for their documents is more than the required six months “in the interest of Filipinos here in the Northern Marianas,” said Guam Consul General Bayani V. Mangibin.
Macaraig pointed out that only a handful of the passport renewal applicants have documents expiring within the year. He said these applicants maintain that they do not travel and do not have a reason to renew their travel documents.
Besides passport renewal, many of the Saipan consulate's clients of late apply for other consular documents such as report of birth or dual citizenship, said Macaraig.
He urged Filipinos in the Commonwealth to visit the consulate for their consular needs until Oct. 31, its last day of service to the public.
Macaraig, who is scheduled to leave today for a weeklong stay in Manila, said several of their employees are already scheduled to leave before the consulate's last day.
At least three staffers will leave by Oct. 12 to go to their next assignments in Doha,, Qatar; Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; and Tel Aviv, Israel.
“They would have to leave earlier as they need several days to work on their visa requirements for their next consular assignment,” said Macaraig, who has been assigned to serve at the Philippine Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Macaraig said he will return to Saipan on Oct. 1 and meet with Guam Consul Gary Auxilian to finalize the transfer of responsibilities of the Saipan consulate to their counterparts in Guam.
Only two staffers will remain at the Saipan consulate to wrap up any administrative matters or concerns.
Macaraig said he already hosted a modest gathering for Filipino community leaders last Sept. 11 after the leaders' meeting with Auxilian and Mangibin to mark his Oct. 15 departure.
He also expects to make final conference calls and meetings with island leaders before leaving for Malaysia.