By Marivir R. Montebon
New York – There’s been a marked increase in the Consular services at the Philippine Consulate General in New York, notably the 117% increase in passport processing, 227% Dual Citizenship applications, and 81% in civil registration, said Consul General Elmer Cato during the Kapihan sa Konsulado on July 15, 2021 with the members FilAm Press Club of New York.
“We have been able to accomplish this much for the past four months. And we are still working on the swift delivery of passports which remains a challenge,” he explained.
The Consulate has begun conducting consular services outside of NYC every other weekend to serve the 10 other states under its jurisdiction.
A resident of Woodside observed that the appointment system (scheduled business transactions) being implemented by the Consulate has made its services efficient and safe. Silvana Colmenares said that she and a couple of her friends share a good level of satisfaction with the services on passport and dual citizenship processing, for instance.
Colmenares suggested that there should be an additional window for assistance to nationals who need to travel on emergency cases.
Cato said that the vigorous community and consular services is attributable to the dedication of the 29 staffers of the Philippine Consulate. “I had a heart-to-heart talk with my colleagues and asked them to sacrifice a little bit. I did not have a hard time convincing them. I am proud of my colleagues here,” explained Cato.
Anti-Asian hate crime campaign
For its assistance to nationals program, the Consulate had immediately joined in the anti-Asian hate campaign to support victims of racially-motivated crimes like those against Vilma Kari, 65, and Noel Quintana, 61.
The families of the victims, the Philippine Consulate General, and the Filipino communities readily stepped up in supporting the victims through Go Fund Me fundraisers and information drives.
“There are no high-profile cases right now but it doesn’t mean it is not happening,” said Cato. As a pro-active response, the Consulate conducted self-defense workshops and webinars as well as legal online forums on racial hate crimes.
Kari was beaten by 33-year-old Brandon Elliot on Times Square on broad daylight and was told to “go home, you Asian.” Quintana‘s face was slashed by an unidentified male on the L Train on his way to work sometime in February this year.
According to media reports, the New York Police Department (NYPD) received 33 complaints about anti-Asian hate crimes in the first three months of 2021, already surpassing the total number of 28 reported last year. Police said that these numbers do not reflect the real scale of the problem with many cases going unreported for a host of reasons such as language barriers and distrust of law enforcement.
Most assaults were done on middle-aged Asian men and women who were alone on the streets or public transit and the attackers tended to be homeless people and individuals who have prior arrests as well as behavioral or emotional conditions, the report said.
Vaccination for Filipinos
The Consulate also partnered with the city government to conduct covid19 vaccinations outside the premises of the Philippine Center in the month of June. This service so far had the lowest participation with only about 70 people coming up to get vaccinated.
“The low turn out could only mean that many of our Kababayan have already been inoculated or that they do not prefer to be inoculated. Still, it was important that we stepped up the vaccination roll out,” quipped Cato.
The office of Gov. Cuomo cited that 79% of the Asian population in the state have been vaccinated as of June 2021, the highest racial group to have received at least the first doze of the coronavirus vaccine. # (Featured photo by Troi Santos, Consul General Elmer Cato during the Kapihan sa Konsulado at the Philippine Center)