HOUSTON, Texas – The Department of Foreign Affairs should reopen the Philippine consulate in this city to address the needs of the growing population of Filipinos in Texas, the second biggest state in the United States after Alaska.
This was the consensus among Filipino expatriates residing in Houston who were not able to renew their passport during a recent outreach program of the Los Angeles consular office of the Philippines, which has jurisdiction in this fourth largest city in the US.
Specifically, the Filipino expatriates called on Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano to speed up the planned reopening of the consular office in Houston. They noted that hundreds of Filipinos were not able to renew their old passports or process their application for dual citizenship due to the limited time allotted by the consular office in its outreach program.
“Kulang po ang oras at hindi sapat yung ibinigay na panahon para mag register sa website ng consulate para sa appointment lalo na sa tulad kong single mom,” said Aling Lydia, 48, who is trying to renew the passport of her 68-year-old dad.
Another expat, 67-year-old Lory Manta, said she was not able to get an appointment for passport renewal despite her three attempts to do so at the consulate’s website. “Ang hirap pong kumonek (sa website),” Aling Lory said.
Filipino-American rapper and hip-hop artist Jim Narvios, also known as “Rocko Stedy,” said there is a lot of improvement needed in the services offered by the consulate.
For instance, he said, there is a lack of information on what can be done for those who were not able to get a schedule on the consulate’s website. He also noted the lack of hospitality or warmth on the part of some consular staff.
“They did not give us any alternative. All they said is we have to register in the website,” Narvios said.
Aside from the reopening of the consulate, the Houston based expatriates also suggested that the National Statistics Office of the Philippines should setup an extension office in the US to facilitate the issuance of NSO authenticated birth or death certificates.