Vancouver Consular Office has budget to Travel?

Vancouver Consular Office has budget to Travel?

The growing number of Filipinos in Alberta is the main reason why a new consular office was needed in the province to better serve Filipinos living and working in Alberta. Since its inception, the Consular office in Calgary has helped a lot of Filipinos with their passport renewals and documents requirements. It has also saved the people time and money because previously, everyone in western Canada had to travel to the Philippine Consulate in Vancouver to get their passports renewed and documentations completed. By land, for example if you are coming from the capital city, the distance from Edmonton to Vancouver is about 2,338 kilometers and it will take approximately 24 hours to drive back and forth. That is a long and expensive trip just to get a passport done. You do not only have to book the time off from work, you also have to budget for gas and food along the way and while you are in Vancouver.

Last September 7, there was a Consular Outreach held in Edmonton. What surprised me was that it was conducted by the Philippine Consulate of Vancouver. So why is Vancouver doing Consular Outreaches in Edmonton? There is a Consular Office in Calgary which is just a 3 hour drive to Edmonton. It would save the Philippine government a lot of money if they use their people in Calgary rather than bring people in from Vancouver. How much did Vancouver spend to come and administer the outreach in Edmonton? Did they fly or did they drive? Either way, it must cost more than bringing in people from Calgary.

We did try to check why Calgary was not doing it and we learned from reliable sources that they did not have the budget. So Calgary has no budget but Vancouver has it? Why didn’t Vancouver just cover the costs for Calgary? I smell something fishy. The Philippine Government has very limited resources but they are being wasted. This needs to be brought to the attention of Malacañang Palace and a special mention should be made to Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano. There needs to be an investigation as to why their staff in the Vancouver office had to travel. This is an unnecessary expense for the taxpayers.

Another big problem that the Department of Foreign Affairs should look into is the online appointment system. People who have been trying to book online could not understand why they cannot get through. It is either the site is down or it will say that it is full. This happens even when they just started accepting bookings online. How can it be full when they just started?

There is no way to know how many people are already in the system or how they were able to get into the system. There is a need for more transparency. Take for example, if they are only taking 150 heads and if the next person is number 151 , he should be able to retain his spot into the next consular outreach and be number 1 on the list. It is not his fault that the Outreach can only take 150 heads. According to a consular officer I spoke to, they do not do this because by that time, the person might not need their help anymore. Really? How do they know? In this day and age of technology, it is not very hard to communicate with any person via mobile phone or through email. If you have a running list, you can contact them and give them five days to reply and if they don’t, you can give their spot to the person next in line. It’s as simple as that. It is not that hard! So why are we making it so difficult? It’s time for the Duterte administration to change things for the better. In the interest of balanced and fair reporting, we made a call to the Vancouver office but never got a call back to get their side on the matter.

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