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19/02/2014: CONSULATE HOLDS FIRST "TALAKAYAN SA KONSULADO"

Left photo: Ms. Roela Vazquez and Ms. Caroline Ocampo of the Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County.  Right photo: DCG Jaime Ramon Ascalon discusses the Philippine Passport.

 

As part of its ongoing thrust to bring important information and services closer to its transacting public, the Philippine Consulate in San Francisco launched “Talakayan sa Konsulado”, a monthly public forum held at the Consulate’s waiting area to discuss issues relevant to the Filipino-American community in the Bay Area.

This month’s Talakayan, held in partnership with the Philippine-American Press Club (PAPC), featured guest speaker Ms. Roela Vazquez of Immigration Legal Services to discuss “Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Its Potential Immigration Benefits for Filipinos”.

Ms. Vazquez, who was joined by Ms. Caroline Ocampo, Chief of Communications and Public Affairs for the Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County, explained that currently, the United States is still deliberating whether to grant “Temporary Protected Status” to the Philippines after it was struck by Typhoon Haiyan last November. She emphasized, however, that if TPS is granted, it may allow qualifying persons to legalize their stay in the United States and obtain the necessary documents to legally work and live here.

Citing the examples of Haiti and El Salvador, which were granted TPS due to grave conditions that affected the capacity of their nationals abroad to return to their home countries, Ms. Vazquez noted that the grant of TPS had been greatly beneficial to nationals of these countries who had previously been staying in the United States without the appropriate visa. Under the conditions of TPS, qualified nationals of Haiti and El Salvador were able to regularize their stay and obtain the necessary legal documents for themselves and their families.

“(If granted), TPS will be a gift from the United States government to the Filipino community here,” Ms. Vazquez stressed.  “Since it is a gift, it is our responsibility now to take advantage of the opportunities TPS offers us”.

Also present was Ms. Lorna Dietz, regional Chair for the National Federation of Filipino-American Associations (NAFFAA) in Region 8, Northern California. During the open forum that followed, Ms. Dietz urged the community to rally their friends, family, and other concerned persons to call the Department of State at (202) 647 6575, ext. 8, to register their strong support for TPS.

Applicants eagerly participated in the discussion on TPS.

Acting Head of Post, Deputy Consul General Jaime Ascalon, wrapped up the Talakayan by reminding all Filipinos to ensure that they were always in possession of a valid Philippine passport, which is still a necessary document for immigration procedures such as TPS. He emphasized that the Consulate does not require persons to present a valid US visa in order to renew their passport, only proof of current Philippine citizenship such as a valid Philippine passport or a Philippine birth certificate.

“Since passport renewal now requires the personal appearance of all applicants, the Consulate has stepped up its Consulate-on-Wheels/Wings (COW) program, which dispatches consular teams to areas under our jurisdiction,” Deputy Consul General Ascalon announced. “We understand that not everybody will be able to visit our office in San Francisco for passport renewal, so we will be traveling to various cities and states under our jurisdiction to bring our services closer to our clients.”

For more information on TPS, or to inquire about the services of the Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County, visit www.CatholicCharitiesSCC.org.

For more information on upcoming Consulate-on-Wheels outreaches, or to search for a COW coming to your area, visit http://www.philippinessanfrancisco.org/philippines-sf/consular-outreach-sf/ or follow the Consulate’s Facebook page on http://www.facebook.com/PCGSF.