Upon the pursuit of promoting the rights and welfare of Filipinos in Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) will be commissioning a full-fledged Philippine Consulate General (PCG) in Melbourne — a transition from its appointment of an Honorary Consulate.
This was announced by Philippine Ambassador to Australia Ma Hellen De La Vega through a statement sent recently to The Philippine Times.
The new Philippine Consulate General in Melbourne will be providing services such as passports, visas and consularisation of documents.
Currently awaiting approval from the Philippine President, the assignment of prospective PCG is recommended by and processed with the Philippine Honorary Consul in Victoria Felix Pintado – who despite his work being voluntary, has performed professionally and remarkably enough as also shown on how he is much-admired for his public service work, by the Filipino community.
“The Philippine Embassy shares the same high regard and appreciation for Mr Pintado’s untiring service, professionalism and regard for the welfare of our overseas Filipinos,” says the Ambassador in the same statement.
An estimated 68,269 Filipinos are expected to benefit from the presence of PCG in Melbourne. This number is congruent to the pursuit carried by Consul Pintado upon pushing through the said recommendation as he considers the welfare of almost a hundred thousand Filipinos not only in Victoria but as well as in the neighbouring states of South Australia and Tasmania.
The said foreign post in Australia is one of the six embassy designations planned by the government. Accordingly, through the DFA there are four-eyed PCGs, to which the other three will be located in Barcelona (Spain), Istanbul (Turkey), and Nagoya (Japan). Meanwhile, the other two embassies are the lined-up openings in Sweden and Morocco.
Aside from the consistently growing number of Filipinos in Australia, this initiative under the General Appropriations Act 2019 of establishing embassies and consulates general are seen as a means of expanding the present relations on trade and investments while adhering to the principle of reciprocity.
Aligned with this, DFA Assistant Secretary Eduardo Meñez states, “The DFA also views the establishment of FSPs from the lens of the Philippine Development Plan, the DFA Strategic Plan, and the National Security Plan”.
On the other hand, the identification of the eyed candidate for the PCG to be hopefully assigned on Australia has undergone the following selection process, as stated in the Republic Act No. 7157 or the Philippine Foreign Service Act of 1991: “Career foreign service officers may be appointed by the President as ambassadors extraordinary and plenipotentiary and shall retain their items originally held prior to their appointments after their tour of duty as ambassadors extraordinary and plenipotentiary: Provided, however, that, during their tour of duty as ambassadors extraordinary and plenipotentiary, they shall not be promoted to the next higher rank.”
In his message to the community conveyed through The Philippine Times, Consul Pintado said he is honoured to have been able to serve his kababayans.
“I am most grateful for the support I have received over the past five years. I am also humbled by the acknowledgement and praise afforded me by the Filipino-Australian community,” he said.
With the announcement of the PCG in Victoria, the Filipino community was hoping Consul Pintado would be officially appointed. However, he has clearly stated that he has no interest in becoming a career diplomat.
“I am currently employed full-time in serving an ageing population. In addition, under the existing rules and regulations, I am ineligible for such a diplomatic role, which would require me to denounce my Australian citizenship as a condition of the role— something I am not prepared to do,” he said. He added that he will continue to engage with and for the Filipino community in his own capacity.
A farewell party for Consul Pintado will be announced in the new year.
DFA announces Deputy Consul General appointment
Anthony Achilles Mandap has been appointed as the Deputy Consul General for Victoria. He will be leading a team of staff from the DFA in Manila.
In a statement forwarded to The Philippine Times, Mandap said that he is counting on the support of the Filipino community “particularly in creating awareness about the Consulate and the services we provide.” Mandap will make a further announcement as soon as his team arrives in mid-December.
Mandap is looking forward to meeting the leaders of other Filipino associations in Victoria.
The team that will be arriving in mid-December includes Anthony Achilles Mandap, Team Leader and Deputy Consul General, Estelita Casuga, Administrative Officer, Rhoda Cruz, Finance Officer, and Leonila Plisoc, Property and Communications Officer.
The remainder of the team will arrive in 2020. It is planned for the Consulate Office to be located within the Melbourne CBD.
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