MANILA — The Philippines' embassy and consulates in the United States have announced that they would increase their consular operations due to the surge in demand for services amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a statement released on Oct. 30, the Philippine embassy and consulates in the US said it may increase the number of appointment slots, its manpower to process applications, answer emails, phone calls, and social media queries, among others to respond to the demand.
The offices are also considering to operate during weekends.
The adjustments, however, depend on local conditions and state restrictions depending on the post’s location, it said.
"The Philippine Embassy and Consulates General in the United States are actively taking steps to meet the surge in demand for dual citizenship, passport, and visa services amid prevailing uncertainties arising from the COVID-19 pandemic," the statement from the country's embassy in Washington read.
Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez, meanwhile, said they are doing everything they could to deliver the embassy’s services despite limitations imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We understand our clients’ frustration over the impact of the pandemic on our consular operations. We wish to assure them that we are aware of their concerns and we are doing everything we can to continue delivering critical services in the safest and most efficient way possible during these challenging times,” said Romualdez.
State, local health regulations, and lockdowns limited their office’s operating hours and the number of people that could be physically accommodated in the consulate’s premises, and it also slowed down processing procedures, according to the statement.
These factors have made it “more difficult for the Embassy and Consulates to reach the majority of clients who are spread throughout their areas of jurisdiction.”
“If you can put your travel plans on hold for the meantime, please do so. I know this might be hard as the Christmas season is upon us, but these measures and regulations have been put in place to keep all of us safe from the pandemic,” he said.
The Philippine embassy and consulates in the US, the statement said, have already coordinated with the Department of Foreign Affairs regarding the adjustments.
Apart from the embassy in the capital, the Philippines has missions in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Agana in Guam and Honolulu in Hawaii.