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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Passport renewals primary concern of Filipino workers

TINIAN—Filipinos on Tinian are awaiting the mobile consular services to be conducted on island within 2013 by the Philippine Consulate General in Guam, the first since the closure of the Saipan Consulate General last year.

Francis Esguerra, Filipino community leader/volunteer, revealed in an interview Friday that passport renewal is the primary consular service that concerns Filipinos on Tinian.

“They are looking at taking a vacation so they want to bring their passports up to date,” she said.

The Guam Consulate, however, has yet to announce the schedule of their mobile consular services not only on Tinian but on Saipan and Rota as well.

In a statement, the Consulate cited the lack of passport equipment as the reason why they have not finalized the schedule for the mobile consular services in the Northern Marianas.

Esguerra, who regularly communicates with the Guam Consulate, said she informed the Filipino community on Tinian about this development.

“The Guam Consulate is working toward keeping their promise that they would conduct regular mobile services for Filipinos in the CNMI,” she told Saipan Tribune.

Esguerra noted that because of the anticipated vacation of a number of Filipinos, they would also want to secure an overseas employment certificate or OEC from the Guam Consulate before leaving for the Philippines.

An OEC ensures that a Filipino worker is properly documented and eligible to receive government protection and benefits. This document also guarantees a Filipino worker exemption from travel tax and airport terminal fee.

According to Esguerra, she always tries to explain to the community that the Guam Consulate does not process OEC because they do not have an officer of OWWA, an attached agency of the consulate.

“I advise our kababayans on Tinian to obtain a schedule for their CW visa interview prior to their vacation since they need that to get an OEC in the Philippines,” added Esguerra.

The Guam Consulate earlier announced an “indicative” schedule for consular outreach services in the CNMI in 2013. But the schedule has yet to be confirmed pending availability of needed equipment.

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