Hundreds of resident Filipinos in the Cayman Islands took advantage of a recent outreach programme by officials from the Washington-based Philippines embassy to process government paperwork, including passport renewals and voter registration, while also discussing issues with the high-ranking diplomats visiting from their homeland.
First Secretary and Consul Arlene Tullid-Magno and Welfare Officer Saul De Vries visited Grand Cayman late last month for a formal exchange with local officials, an event facilitated by the office of Cayman Islands Deputy Governor Franz Manderson.
Accompanying the visitors was the local Philippines Honourary Consul Arturo Ursua. Even though not formally appointed, he has been acting as a liaison officer for some time. He was cited by Mrs. Tullid-Magno “for doing a great job since 2008 – largely because of the Cayman government’s acceptance and support of his work”.
After making diplomatic calls on top government officials, the Filipino visitors conducted three days of meetings and official transactions with Filipino nationals, such as passport renewals, replacements and other services. Three other embassy staffers formed the delegation.
More than 450 residents, including status-holders and people on work permits, came out to the consultations. Recent immigration figures show 2,677 Filipinos on work permits.
On other matters, Mrs. Tullid-Magno noted that the diplomatic matter of the deployment ban on workers for the Cayman Islands has been suspended, and had actually been initiated by the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency.
“There was never an issue of the Cayman Islands not being in compliance,” she said.
Other changes are also pending.
While liaisons with Cayman fall under the auspices of the Philippines embassy in London, issues in the Americas are usually managed by the Washington embassy. However, with the closure of its Venezuela embassy in July and the closure of the Havana office later this month, the Philippines embassy in Washington is taking a more active role regionally.
The Philippine officials are working alongside the Cayman government to establish a sanctioned local presence. Once established in Cayman, an honorary consul would process applications for e-passports (issued in Manila), serve as a civil registry of births, marriages and deaths, authenticate documents, and assist nationals who are ill or imprisoned.
Another aspect of the delegation’s visit was to register nationals for next year’s general elections in the Philippines, in which they can participate via absentee ballots.
The issue of citizenship was also on the agenda. As that country allows dual citizenship, nationals who acquire Cayman Islands status must take an oath to recover their original status, thereby having dual-nationality.