Consulate On Wheels

Eighty-three Filipino-Americans took their oath as dual citizens in ceremonies held last September 17 at the Philippine-American Community Center of Michigan (PACCM) in Southfield.

Philippine Consul General Leo Herrera Lim administered the oath of the new dual citizens, who are now both American and Filipino citizens, during the “Consulate on Wheels” outreach program held at PACCM.

Before he presided over the oath-taking rites, Lim explained to the oath takers that when they were sworn in as American citizens, they renounced all their rights and privileges as Filipino citizens.

“By becoming dual citizens, you have regained all your rights and privileges as Filipinos,” he said.

Consul General Lim, who heads the Philippine consulate based in Chicago, Illinois, cited at least three advantages of dual citizenship.

“First,” he said, “dual citizens are able to reconnect formally to their native land; second, if they are professionals, they can renew their licenses and practice their profession in the Philippines.”

Third, Lim said, if they travel to Vietnam, Cambodia and the member-countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) – Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand – with their Philippine passports, they don’t need visas to enter these countries.

Lim also said that dual citizens can participate in the efforts to make the Philippines a progressive country.

The dual citizens were given their certificates of dual citizenship during the “Consulate on Wheels,” a yearly joint undertaking of the Philippine consulate and PACCM headed by Chairperson Ernestina Mac.

This outreach program of the consulate spares Filipino-Americans and Filipino immigrants in Michigan the trouble of having to travel to Chicago to apply for Philippine passports or renew their passports. Other consular services provided through the program included authentication of documents such as those needed for duty-free entry of donated equipment and supplies in the Philippines.

Consul General Lim reported that this year’s “Consulate on Wheels” in Michigan served 383 Filipino-Americans and Filipino immigrants, noting that this number is the biggest since the program was launched several years ago.

He said that it took the nine consulate personnel until 9:30 p.m. to attend to the 383 people who trooped to PACCM to take advantage of the program.

The consulate employees were assisted by PACCM officers and volunteers who were led by Ernie Mac, Fred Porte and Becky Tungol. The volunteers included Teresa Duller (chairperson of the PACCM committee tasked to provide the support services), Van Ong, Willie Dechavez, Ryan Rosario, Resty Teodoro, Tadeo Hubahib, Bernie Duller, Fe San Agustin, Billie Belen and Tony Kho.
It was noted that the applicants for passports and passport renewal arrived at PACCM some two hours before 8 a.m. when the consulate personnel started their work.

It was also observed that the bottleneck in the processing of papers was at the section where the biometric data were being taken as there were only two biometric machines available.

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