NY Consul General launches press event to tackle community concerns

NEW YORK CITY – Philippine Consul General Mario De Leon launched the ConGen’s press hour Wednesday.

De Leon presented the services available at the Philippine Consulate in New York and answered questions from media on different issues affecting the Filipino community.

The ConGen’s press hour is expected to become a quarterly event to address Filipino American press inquiries.

“It’s very important that we keep the community informed because an informed community is an empowered community,” he said.

De Leon underscored the importance of civil registration. He said children born outside the Philippines by at least one Filipino citizen can receive a Philippine-authenticated birth certificate via the National Statistics Office (NSO) in Manila when the parent registers the birth of their child at the nearest Philippine Consulate.

“They are what you call dual from birth, di ba? From birth pa lang dual na sila,” he said. “They’re born here so they’re American citizens. Yung sa atin kasi jus sanguine, since one of the parent is a Filipino by the time of birth, they’re also Filipinos.”

Meantime, the Permanent Court Arbitration (PCA) in the Hague, Netherlands is about four to six months away from making a decision on the Philippine’s arbitration case against China over the territorial disputes in the South China Sea or West Philippine Sea.

The Philippines has been asked to submit further written arguments by March 15 and for China to submit their counter arguments by June 16.

De Leon said  he is confident about the Philippine’s position on its maritime jurisdiction in the West Philippine Sea.

“We want this dispute to be settled within International Law, of course, within the context of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea as well as the declaration of conduct on the South China Sea where China is also a signatory,” he said.

On another issue, while the Philippines is now the call center capital of the world, Philippine Foreign Service posts such as Philippine consulates around the world have no customer service centers to respond to its Filipino clients.

“So if 70 percent or 80 percent of the questions are basic information, a call center can easily do that. So that’s the reason we were asking for that,” said De Leon.

De Leon said, the Philippine government’s response to their request for a call center remains to be seen.

You may contact Don Tagala at don_tagala@abs-cbn.com

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