Paid to serve the ‘bosses’ with utmost indulgence
“Kayo ang boss ko!” This was President Aquino’s battle cry when he took over the presidency. But after just a little more than a year in Malacañang, his lieutenants in many Philippine embassies are already acting otherwise.
Take the Philippine Embassy in Japan.
It has reached the attention of Sagip Migrante that a kababayan, who lost her passport during the Tohoku disaster (in Japan) last March 11, was treated badly by officials of the embassy.
They had asked her to submit a bunch of documents that were eventually turned down. After several trips back and forth between Miyagi and Tokyo, and after spending P33,000, she ended up empty-handed. Worse, she was charged for her new Philippine passport P8,800, despite the fact that she was a disaster victim.
In another case, another kababayan in Miyagi Prefecture had to pay P49,500 for the services of a passport processing agent, after her passport application was turned down repeatedly by the Philippine Embassy. What she experienced in the Philippine Embassy was as tragic as her experience in a tsunami disaster. She was insulted and scolded by embassy personnel after she submitted incomplete documents for her passport application.
Insensitive to what she had been through—a recent natural disaster, long queues and several trips back and forth—embassy personnel reprimanded her and demanded that she get out.
After being widely criticized for its pathetic response to the Tohoku disaster, Philippine Embassy officials continue to impose on Filipinos strict measures in the processing of travel documents, regardless of whether one is a victim of a disaster or not.
To save face, Philippine Embassy personnel also resorted to a propaganda campaign announcing palliative relief missions and fund-raising campaigns for the disaster victims. While they appear meek and humble before international media and donors, Philippine Embassy personnel treat their fellow Filipinos with arrogance.
We call on the Aquino administration to relax some procedures regarding the issuance of travel documents, and to scrap additional fees imposed on passport applicants. Government should not make milking cows out of Filipinos; they deserve proper treatment from embassy personnel who are, in principle, paid by the Filipino people to serve with utmost respect and indulgence.
—NESTOR L. PUNO, coordinator, Sagip Migrante Japan, [email protected]
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