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Proposal to reopen PH Consulate General's office in Winnipeg under review

Rowena Papasin | TFC News Canada

Posted at Jul 19 2022 08:27 PM | Updated as of Jul 19 2022 08:28 PM

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After a three-month pause due to the May 2022 Philippine elections and Filipino Heritage Month activities in June, the Philippine Consulate General in Toronto has resumed its consular outreach services in Winnipeg.

Hundreds booked appointments so they can renew their passports, file their applications for dual citizenship, and avail of other services during the three-day consular outreach. In Winnipeg, Toronto Consul General Orontes Castro also presided over the oath-taking of many kababayans who reacquired their Filipino citizenship.

"Alam na alam natin na mahal na mahal nila, that the Philippines is still in the heart of these Filipinos, former Filipino citizens who are requiring Philippine citizenship," Castro noted.

(We know that they really love [the Philippines], that the Philippines is still in the heart of these Filipinos, former Filipino citizens who are requiring Philippine citizenship.)

According to the PCG Toronto, they were able to provide passport, dual citizenship, civil registry and notarial services to 1,344 overseas Filipinos during the outreach. Castro said even if appointments were required, walk-ins were not turned away.

"We have prioritized yung mga senior citizens natin. Sa serbisyo, no need for them to request for an appointment. They can come to us. Ito yung mga seniors 60 and above, kasama din yung mga PWDs, at even yung mga pregnant kababayan natin, women na kababayan natin, at yung mga maliliit na bata, we are giving them priority."

(We have prioritized our senior citizens. For the services, no need for them to request for an appointment. They can come to us. These are the seniors 60 and above, including the PWDs and even the pregnant women, and small children, we are giving them priority.)

Winnipeg used to have its own consulate general's office, but this has closed and consular services are now provided by the PCG Toronto.  When the outreach to Winnipeg stalled at the height of the pandemic, a group of Filipinos started a change.org petition to have their own permanent consulate office so that Filipinos needing urgent services won’t have to go to other parts of Canada to renew their passports or avail of other services.

Castro said the Department of Foreign Affairs is reviewing the request but hinted the process will take some time.

"May mga proseso po yan kasi mangangailangan po yung tinatawag na budget. Magkakaroon ng mga proseso so dadaan po yan sa Kongreso. So sa amin po, naipadala po namin yan since last year," the consul general said.

(There are processes that have to be done because it will need what you call a budget. It will undergo processes so it will go through Congress. For our part, we have already sent the petition since last year.)

Castro gave his assurance that PCG Toronto will help set up the career consulate general office in Winnipeg once this is approved.

Manitoba is home to almost 100,000 Filipinos. Currently, only an honorary consul that helps in providing limited consular services is assigned to Winnipeg.