"Why make life difficult indeed for Filipinos who had already gone through the trouble?"
Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teddy Locsin asked a valid question on why applicants for passport renewal need to show their birth certificates again.
“That’s bullsh*t,” said Locsin, using the barnyard vulgarity in his colorful language. He said he was puzzled by the requirement since the person applying for a passport renewal is what he is and who is as declared in the expired passport which is a government document issued to him.
Yes, indeed. Why make life difficult anew for the applicant who has already gone through the tedious process of securing a birth certificate from the Philippine Statistics Authority? This is doubly difficult for our Overseas Filipino Workers whose passport expired at their place of work in another country in the Middle East where they have to get the permission of their employers to go to the Philippine embassy. Doing this by mail, which needs authentication from both ends, is a bureaucratic nightmare.
Assistant Secretary Elmer Cato responded, claiming that new data is needed in the new e-passport being issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs to preclude tampering and the proliferation of fake passports. But new data can be provided by the applicant without him or her presenting a birth certificate, right?
The issue came up in the aftermath of the scene created by Fil-Am actor Tony Labrusca at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport last week. Labrusca allegedly shouted at the female Bureau of Immigration agent who attended to him upon arrival. The Fil-Am celebrity fumed that he was only given 30 days to stay in the country. The BI agent at the arrival counter explained that Fil-Ams are only given longer stay than 30 days if they are accompanied by their parents.
Secretary Locsin now wants Labrusca deported for his brusque manner with the BI agent whom the visitor verbally abused. Labrusca denied being disrespectful and has since apologized for the incident.
“I apologized for letting my frustration and emotion get the better of me,” said Labrusca who wanted a longer stay to fulfill a professional engagement in Manila.
We support Secretary Locsin on the matter. In fact, Labrusca should have been put on the first plane out to show the world that even in this small country we do not tolerate visitors who think they can abuse our people and get away with it because they are celebrities.
Celebrity? Not too many Pinoys know about Tony Labrusca until the NAIA incident where he made
a fool of himself.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia made known through the Department of Labor and Employment that it needs some 1,000 Filipino nurses for their hospitals. The pay, according to DOLE is a starting salary of P50,000, with regular increases, housing and living allowances. Air fare is also included in the job offer.
This is good news but the DFA and DOLE should make sure our people are not abused by their Arab employers. There has been a spate of mistreatment reports recently against our OFWs in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. The most gruesome case was the Filipina domestic who was found dead in a basement freezer in Kuwait. There are others who work abroad in the Middle East who regularly send home balikbayan
boxes to parents and relatives. Sadly, some of them come home in coffins with harvested body organs.
The Filipino nurses being recruited by the Saudi Kingdom is a boon to their dependents at home. It’s hard to find jobs that pay as well as the Saudi offer. But it’s a risky employment considering the perils that come with it. Working as nurses in the rural areas after graduation may not be as lucrative but our local nurses are badly needed in the provinces where hospitals and doctors are scarce in the far-flung areas.
Perhaps our government, not just this one but the next one as well, should set up more hospitals in the rural areas as part of the Build, Build, Build program for the poor people and also so our nurses need not seek employment abroad.