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Saturday, April 19, 2014

IT&E opens hotline for PH consulate in Guam

Filipinos in the CNMI will now have a chance to call the Philippine Consulate General in Agana without paying for long distance charges.

IT&E announced yesterday that it has activated a local landline number—682-2222—that would be directed to the Guam consulate. Calls to this number would be free of charge for IT&E subscribers on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota.

Officials of the phone company and the consulate welcomed this new development, which comes almost a month after the closure of the Philippine Consulate General on Saipan.

Rose Soledad, IT&E regional controller, said in an interview that calling up their assigned number would be seamlessly connected to the Guam consulate, which took over the consular responsibilities in the Northern Marianas.

“We just want to provide service to the Filipinos in the CNMI by giving them a number where they can call the Guam consulate without incurring additional costs. It’s our way of helping our kababayans in light of the closure of the Saipan consulate,” she said.

Using the number, Saipan Tribune yesterday called Guam Consul General Bayani V. Mangibin who said that they are very pleased since the IT&E management first approached them about this plan.

“Through this medium, Filipinos in the CNMI would no longer be financially burdened to call the Guam consulate for their consular needs,” he said.

Mangibin said they expect to receive more phone calls from the Commonwealth with the activation of the IT&E number.

Mangibin and Consul Gary Q. Auxilian separately noted that the Guam consulate has already been receiving a lot of calls from Filipinos based on all three islands in the CNMI even before IT&E set up a local number.

Auxilian disclosed that their office receives an average of 10 calls per day from the CNMI, adding that the number of calls they receive from the Northern Marianas exceeded those from Filipinos in Guam.

Phone inquiries were mainly about requirements and procedures in passport renewal applications, marriage and other consular documents, including schedule of upcoming mobile consular services on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota.

“That’s why we really appreciate IT&E’s effort to make the Guam consulate more accessible to Filipinos in the CNMI,” added Auxilian.

The two officials encouraged Filipinos in the Commonwealth to add them on Facebook, Agana Pcg, or visit their website at www.philippinesguam.org to find out the latest policies and procedures affecting Filipino workers or to learn more about consular concerns.

Both Internet sites are updated regularly by Vice Consul Ma. Paz Cortes and communication officer Allan Tangayan.

Auxilian said their consulate website shows the list of 66 Filipino nationals from the CNMI whose passport renewal applications on Saipan up to Oct. 31 are already with the Guam consulate.

He said these passport holders should mail their old passport and a self-addressed mailing pouch so the Guam consulate can send them their new passport. They can also give a family member or friend going to Guam an authorization letter so the consulate can hand them their passport.

“We just like to assure our kababayans in the CNMI not to lose optimism even when we at the Guam consulate are miles away from them. While it is true that we are not physically there, we remain committed to assist and support them with their needs to the best of our ability,” added Mangibin.

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