Migrante Alberta Lauds Coalition for Consular Office; Welcomes Positive Statement from ConGen Ferrer
CALGARY — Migrante Alberta commends the Coalition to Open a Consular Office in Alberta for a fruitful meeting with newly installed Consul General Neil Frank Ferrer here over the weekend.
Migrante Alberta, along with various Filipino-oriented support groups, received confirmation from the RP official that his office had sent recommendations to the Department of Foreign Affairs in the Philippines to open an Alberta-based consular office. Migrante Alberta began trumpeting the campaign for a consular office since its inception in August 2013.
Ferrer said following budget deliberations and approval, the office will likely open up in 2015. Tentatively, the site will open in the city of Calgary, as preferred area by the Vancouver consulate. He states several reasons why this is: commercial and trade center, number of (Filipino) workers, maintain economic diplomacy and the presence of other consular offices for other nationalities.
Ferrer also laid out possible timelines for the proposal. He said that the recommendation is now under the study of the Policy Advisory Board, the office that assesses whether a budget will be available to cover the cost of a new consular office. He said that the board is set to meet this month and will hopefully tackle the proposal. He said that the final approval would come from the Philippine Congress, as it has “the power of the purse” during its 2015 budget deliberation after the State of the Nation Address by the president in July.
Alberta is home to over 100,000 Filipinos, including permanent residents and temporary foreign workers. While there is a growing number of Filipinos in the province, the PH Consulate based in Vancouver cannot address the growing demands of Filipinos that needed its services. The BC based consular office alone serves approximately 200,000 to 250,000 Filipinos in Western Canada alone, including Alberta, British Columbia and the Yukon and Northwest Territories.
“The ball is now in the Philippines and Migrante International in the Philippines will be lobbying the congress to push for a consular office in Alberta and better consular services in Canada” said Migrante Canada Secretary General, Marco Luciano. “Filipinos in Canada alone have sent and average of $2 billion in remittances. It is oblivious for the Philippine government officials to ignore our call while those in higher government position have allegations of misuse and abuse of public funds” Luciano added. Migrante Alberta stated that they will put more pressure and continue the campaign until a permanent career consul is installed.