GERMANY – Filipinos have been gathering signatures to appeal to the Philippine government to reconsider its alleged plan to close down some of its foreign posts in Germany, Spain and Sweden.
Victoria Villar-Demmer, a representative of the University of the Philippines Alumni Association in Germany, said one of the aims of their group is to promote the welfare of Filipinos there.
“In keeping that aim, ay nagtulong-tulong kami with Fr. Mel Braga na magsulat ng appeal na ito at pagsama-samahin ang mga community leaders at saka mga concerned Filipino individuals na magtipon-tipon para gawin itong signature campaign na ito. We even sent heads up copy to President Aquino, through the President’s Action Center. Kaya may kopya na siya,” said Demmer.
Demmer said the Philippine post in Frankfurt is a performing consulate that has served about 12,000 Filipinos and foreigners.
“Ano ba ang basis na ang Frankfurt ang isasara? Lalo na ang serbisyo ay kailangang-kailangan ng ating mga kababayan?" asked Demmer.
The consulate in Frankfurt was opened in March 2009, a year after the government closed its post in Hamburg and Bonn in 2008.
“Nakakalungkot dahil napaka-importante ng Konsulado na ito di lamang para sa mga Filipinos dito sa Frankfurt, kung di pati na rin galing sa mga bayan na malapit dito,” said Nita Gocatek, Vice President of the Philippine Cultural Institute (PCI Frankfurt)
The consulate has jurisdiction over Germany’s 6 states--Hessen, Baden Württemberg, Nordrhein-Westphalen, Rheinland-Pfalz, Saarland, and Thüringen.
Even foreigners want the Philippine government to retain its consulate in Frankfurt as this would facilitate the efficient processing of papers of Filipino workers.
“It is very necessary that the consulate stay here in Frankfurt because in the area of Frankfurt alone, there are more than 3,500 Filipinos. Imagine if the Filipinos go to Berlin, to process their papers. It is more than 800 km. It is a long travel and expensive," said Andreas Burk, President of the PCI Frankfurt.
Meanwhile, a similar move is being undertaken by Filipinos in Barcelona, Spain and Sweden.
Around 1,000 signatures have been gathered during the first day of the signature campaign in Barcelona on January 23.
The campaign is also being supported by more than 20 Filipino organizations in Barcelona and Balearic Islands.
In Sweden, Filipinos there are also gathering signatures for their direct appeal to President Aquino not to close down the embassy.
There are reports that selected Philippine foreign posts will be closed by June. Report from Jessica Gross, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau correspondent