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Ople Center’s appeal: “Save euro-zone, but save Consulate in Spain too!”

First Posted in :   susanople.com
Blas F. Ople Policy Center
June 28, 2012

NGO’s appeal: “Save euro-zone, but save Consulate in Spain as well”

The Blas F. Ople Policy Center, a non-government organization that assists distressed migrant workers, appealed to the Philippine government to save the Philippine Consulate in Barcelona, Spain from closure next month as it strives to help euro-zone countries in their time of need through the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

In a press statement, the Center described as “ironic” the decision of the Philippines to extend a $1-Billion loan to the International Montetary Fund’s firewall bail-out fund for euro-zone countries while scrimping on funds to sustain the operations of a consulate in Spain, a potential beneficiary of said fund.

The labor advocate cited the remarks of presidential spokesman Secretary Edwin Lacierda who said that the Philippines’ pledge of a billion dollars to the IMF would help euro-zone countries where thousands of Filipinos work.

“In behalf of more than 25,000 OFWs in Barcelona, we appeal to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Department of Budget and Management for them to reconsider its decision to shut down the consulate.
It’s ironic for us to extend a billion-dollar loan to help Europe while closing down a Consulate in Barcelona manned by less than 10 people on July 30,” Susan Ople, president of the Center, said.

According to the DFA, at least 12 embassies and consulates are slated for closure this year including the Philippine Consulate in Barcelona, Spain. Also included for closure is the Philippine Embassy in Ireland where thousands of Filipinos currently work, mostly in the medical field.

It explained that the policy decision to cut down the number of embassies and consulates was reached during the Senate budget deliberations on the national budget. Senate sources, however, said the final decision on where to make the cuts or which embassies to close down remained with the DFA.

“We are not questioning the wisdom behind this investment because the BSP has its own experts that studied this well. However, we wish to point out the glaring inconsistency in extending such a loan while proceeding to close down a consulate as part of the DFA and DBM’s austerity measures,” Ople pointed out.

Filipinos in Barcelona, Spain are against the consulate’s closure next month citing long travel hours and expenses in going to Madrid. The closure of the Philippine Consulate would also make it difficult for Filipino seafarers whose ships dock in Barcelona to use their limited hours on land to take a train for Madrid for consular transactions or labor assistance. END