Photo has been used for illustrative purposes.
Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter
Two Philippine government offices in Al Qusais, Dubai namely the Philippine Consulate General (PCGDXB) and Philippine Overseas Labour Office (POLODXB), shall continually engage in various digital platforms as the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic prevails.
Consul General Paul Raymund Cortes and Labour Attache Felicitas Bay reiterated their “No Appointment, No Entry” policy unless in emergency situations for public health reasons, at the first of a series of “Meet the Press 2021” on Sunday. At the press conference wherein newly-deployed Vice Consul Aleah Gica was introduced, were Deputy Consul General Renato Duenas Jr., Vice Consul Elizabeth Ramos, and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Officer Melvin Caseda.
The consulate general digital platforms and communication lines aside from the email addresses for specific notarial services are dubaipcg.dfa.gov.ph, facebook.comPHinDubai, @PHinDubai (Instagram/Twitter), and +971564177558 (SMS/WhatsApp). POLODXB is on Facebook with POLO Dubai and Northern Emirates, its website is www.Polodubai portal.org, and hotline +971506526626.
The digitalisation of cultural campaigns shall also continue, according to newly-deployed Vice Consul Gica, a University of the Philippines (Manila) Political Science graduate who initially worked in the private sector, on her first foreign post assignment, and tasked to expand the PCGDXB cultural and economic portfolios.
A brief on the consulate general 2020 logbooks disclosed that over 50,000 COVID-19 severely affected Filipinos and their families including 584 POLODXB-sheltered distressed Filipinas were repatriated until New Year’s Eve. PCGDXB worked on 121,000 assistance-to-nationals/consular services (notarial documentation, legal advice and judicial court hearings through a legal retainer, release of travel documents, jail visits, humanitarian needs, hospital visits/medical or corpse repatriation).
A total of 400 out of an average of 10 a week brought before a free weekly legal assistance consultation prospered into court cases. Some are ongoing and several won. The top two legal concerns were breach of contract and theft. Of the 758 January to December 2020 POLODXB-sheltered distressed Filipinas due to alleged human trafficking and employment challenges, 83 “voluntarily exited” and returned to their employers after a day or two, 73 were endorsed at the Philippine Overseas Labour Office in Abu Dhabi and only 18 with ongoing labour cases remain cloistered at the POLODXB.
On the one-time Dhs730.00 (Php10,000.00) COVID19 terminated/no-work-no-pay financial assistance, POLODXB, among 34 Philippine Overseas Labour Offices worldwide, registered the highest applicants as of Dec. 31, 2020 with 99,465. For now and subject to the availability of funds, 27,000 had been allocated as recipients with 32,253 approved out of the 99,465; 25,879 paid out with a total disbursement of Dhs18,884,370.00 (Php247,064,041.62). OWWA financial assistance for the post-treatment/medications of COVID-19 survivors were at 273 while 3,329 were so far recipients of free groceries, a portion of which is courtesy of a popular chain of supermarkets.
Cortes underscored the necessity of the “No Appointment, No Entry” policy, saying gone are pre-COVID-19 scenarios when both the consular mission and the POLODXB used to experience a combined daily footfall of 1,400 — also from Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah, and Fujairah — for notarial services, humanitarian needs, labour problems, and crime-related concerns, aside from the release of tourist and business visas.
Nevertheless, he assured that with a combined 70 workforce with POLODXB, they would see to it that everyone’s needs are going to be attended to properly, courteously and efficiently, even with existing COVID-19 restricted face-to-face interactions.
A report in July last year said that since June, the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the Philippine Consulate General in Dubai (PCGDXB) have so far assisted and overseen the departure of 26,500 of their countrymen owing to the pandemic caused by the virulent SARS-CoV2.
Of the 50,000, 2,600 have availed of the repatriation programme covering free airline tickets courtesy of the Department of Foreign Affairs (Manila)-Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs.
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