Filipinos in the Republic of Ireland are now left with no effective diplomatic representation whatsoever
Many Irish Pinoys are now in a very precarious position in respect of their passports, with several having had extensions made to their passports, with these now running out of time as an extension may only be made once. As there is neither an embassy nor a consulate or honorary consul in Dublin, these people are now liable to be in breach of Irish immigration laws, and therefore liable for arrest and/or deportation. If there is less than 6 months validity on their passport, they may even have problems to officially leave Ireland.
The passport extensions were made in the now closed Dublin embassy. This was because of technical failures existing during the first half of 2010 when the Dublin embassy system broke down resulting in the issuance of 2 year extensions; the breakdown actually occurred in Manila, and it affected not just Dublin, but was worldwide.
With the new Philippine passports being bio-metric and machine readable, passports take time for renewal, with the person wishing to have a new passport having to be in physical attendance. And therein lies the rub.
Because of the way the DFA have acted, when the Philippine embassy in Dublin closed back in July this year, there was no Honorary Consul (HC) in place to take up the duties in Ireland. There can be no claim that it was an emergency as the DFA had known for months that Dublin and other embassies were being closed as a cost-cutting measure, and that it was the DFA who ordered the closure.
According to a spokeman for An Roinn Gnóthaí Eachtracha agus Trádála (The Irish Trade & Foreign Affairs Office), before closing their Embassy in Dublin the Philippine authorities requested that they accredit diplomats from their Embassy in London to handle consular and trade issues and this was done. The spokesman then named the diplomats, as well as their functions. There was no mention of an Honorary Consul.
Even the tiny Channel Islands off the coast of France have an HC, as does Iceland with a Philippine population of only 1.600. There are about 17,000 Filipinos in Ireland.
Those with passports running out are being told to post theirs to the London embassy for a two year extension. This would allow them to travel to an outside embassy or Manila to get a new passport.
But those who have already had an extension and have less than three months validity cannot travel to London as the British embassy in Dublin will not grant visas, and those whose passports are near to running out have the added problem of their Garda (police) stamps being in default.
For those Filipinos wishing to travel to European countries in the Schengen system there is an even bigger problem. Schengen countries don't issue visas if there is less than 6 months of validity in a passport at the point where you are due to have finished your holiday/visit. This may apply to other non-European countries.
Those Filipinos living in Northern Ireland have no problems travelling to London as that province is part of the UK.
This then leaves Pinoys in the Republic of Ireland in an even worse position than before the embassy opened 3 years ago when there was just an Honorary Consul in place in Dublin.
The barest minimum solution to this dreadful state of affairs is that an Honorary Consul be appointed as early as possible, if only to protect the status of many Filipinos in Ireland.
There then are two other possible solutions to the issue of closure of embassies as a cost-cutting measure, with one specifically to address the Dublin problem.
The first could be a sharing of embassies. This sharing of diplomatic space and services isn't uncommon between countries: Canada and Britain for instance already have several such arrangements, and have just announced plans to investigate further such ventures. In Mali, British diplomats are housed in the Canadian embassy. In Myanmar, where Canada has just reopened its diplomatic presence, a Canadian diplomat is housed in the British embassy. Britain also has some similar arrangements with Australia.
In Berlin, the five Scandinavian (Nordic) states of Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Iceland created the first communal embassy compound in 1999. Essentially it is 5 embassies in one faciility, but with a massive cost saving. In 2009, the 5 Nordic foreign ministers explored further the possibility of sharing more embassy facilities around the world at a meeting in Oslo.
The British, Canadian, Australian and Nordic countries facility share deals are obvious cost-cutting cooperation in action. There is also synergy to these deals mentioned.
Britain, Canada and Australia have a common language and heritage as well as other similarities that make for a good shoe-in.
The Nordic countries have long had a common heritage as well as a history of deals in other spheres. The Norwegian embassy in Manila handles consular matters for Swedish people.
However, this would take a lot of negotiating and time, even if the Philippine government could agree such a deal with another country.
There is also another possibility the DFA in Manila and the embassy in London may want to consider; a part-time Chargé d'Affaires (CdA) or Consul General (CG) working in conjunction with or without an Honorary Consul in place. The part-timer could be based in London, going to Dublin say every 4 weeks for a week at a time.
It is not so far fetched as it sounds, a CdA or CG would give PHL a presence in Dublin to handle consular and labor matters, as well as diplomatic matters with the Irish government as and when necessary. Because of protocol it would probably have to be a CG as a CdA would subvert the ambassador's standing.
And it would not cost anywhere near as much as the much derided former embassy in Dublin did.
If a CG for Dublin was in place, even if part-time, with an Honorary Consul, the HC could do the donkey work, with a visiting CG swooping in to conduct higher level matters, including that of the all important passports.
This would be a much better solution than the situation Filipinos in Ireland find themselves in at present.
John Ferris, the former Honorary Consul, has very helpfully compiled a help list for Pinoys with passport problems:
You can obtain extension applications from me in hard copy or electronically. Or you can google Philippine Embassy London and click on "downloads" to get a printout from that website.
The application form states that you should submit:-
(a) the original passport for extension
(b) one photocopy of the data page of the Philippine passport (i.e. the page containing your information)
(c) one passport size photo (recent photo) for their own reference. (It can be of white bakkground if you wish).
(d) £15 stg is the cost of extension
(e) £7 stg to cover cost of recorded post to your address. (£15 + £7 = £22 sterling bank or post office draft)
(e) Self addressed envelope
FURTHER EXPLANATION OF ABOVE POINTS
(a) In regard to (a) above, an extension can be granted only once. It can be granted to Filipinos residents in Ireland due to no Consular presence in Ireland to renew passports.
(b) Filipinos should always keep in a safe place photocopies of all the stamped pages of current and old passports for future use; on occasion passports are lost or stolen, which leaves the owners in a very difficult situation. The hidden cost of not having photocopies could run into thousands of euros. Needless to say, it's important to have colour photocopies of all pages (containing information) of any passport you are sending by post to London in case it gets lost.
(c) recorded post in the UK is the equivalent of Registered post in Ireland, and it costs £7 stg.
At todays rate of exchange 19. 8. 2012 at an Irish post office, the full cost of a sterling draft cheque to obtain an extension is equal to €36.77 euros which includes the €4 commission.
Add to this the €5.17 registered post to London Embassy. The grand total of your extension works out at €38.07 euros.
The embassy are prohibited from accepting passport transactions on behalf of clients from persons other than a Philippine foreign service establishment. Since there is no consular presence in Ireland, they will therefore only accept them from individual Filipino applicants themselves.
The Philippine embassy in London have a down- loadable form for passport extension, but they have no guidelines.
Below we publish the guidelines from the Los Angeles Consulate General which might be useful when considering obtaining an extension in London.
In view of the longer period required for the processing and issuance of the machine-readable passport (MRP) or e-Passport, the following guidelines shall be observed in the application for extension of the validity of Philippine passports for Filipinos in Los Angeles:
1. The passport to be amended has a validity of less than six months;
2. The extension of the validity is a measure to address emergency or meritorious cases;
3. The extension of the validity of passport should not be considered as an alternative in lieu of a renewal of the passport;
4. The reason for applying must be given. If the Consulate finds the applicant's stated reason/s for extension to be meritorious, the validity of the passport may be extended for a period of not more than one (1) year from the date of the application; (In London it's two years)
ADDITIONAL NOTES FOR THOSE RENEWING PASSPORTS URGENTLY.
For those applicants who wish to travel to London immediately in order to renew their passports please note the following before booking their flight:-
(a) they should ensure to apply at the London Embassy at lease 7 months before the expiration of their current passports.(b) If they arrive at the Embassy with passports with less than 6 months validity remaining, they will only be granted an extension.(c) Obviously both extension or renewals will not be granted if the applicant has already acquired Irish or UK citizenship. In this case they will be required to reacquire Philippine Citizenship by swearing an Oath at the Embassy if they want a new Philippine passport.
John Ferris, Peace Commissioner,8 Georgian Village,Castleknock,Dublin 15
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 086 399 7654 (feel free to telephone anytime; this is a 24/7 Philippine information service;
OBSERVATIONS ON OBTAINING EXTENSIONS.
It is a great benefit to Filipinos in Ireland that they can obtain a two year extension to their existing passports by posting instead of appearing in person. This means they need not panic about the London embassy coming any time soon. In fact two years leaves plenty of time for Filipinos to apply for and obtain Irish Naturalization, and still remain legally resident in Ireland during that time. It's good value, and only works out at €19 euros for each of the two years.
They will never have to apply for a Philippine passport again once they have an Irish passport as a passport is only a travel document, not a citizenship document.
The two year extension takes pressure off the Community to a great extent. They don't have to worry any more. If this escape route was not available to them I can't imagine how a London embassy outreach to Dublin would cope with new applications for passport renewals, which could easily amount to over 200 - judging by previous experience. How could the encoders from the embassy possibly cope with that many, given the fact that it takes at least 20 minutes to encode each applicant. that would mean they might have to have at least 4 encoding personal officers working flat out. How could they bring so many machines to Dublin ! So it's good thinking on the part of the Philippine embassy to be liberal with extensions for Filipinos living in Ireland.
DOWNLOADING THE EXTENSION APPLICATION FORM.
you can download it from the London embassy website, or request me to send it electronically on facebook or my email, which is "email@example.com"
Don't bother getting the extension form sworn. Leave that part blank.