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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A Reader's Comments

I would like to share with your readers my experience here at the Maltese Consulate to the Philippines.

Having come here from the Philippines as a business woman with capital and projects to manufacture handicrafts in Malta, I went to the consulate in the hope that they would help me in my endeavors. Very soon I noticed and learned that they were charging Filipinos a fee for a single signature, endorsement, or visa extension. Now I have absolute proof that the consulate's intervention was not needed for the issue or extension of a visa to stay in Malta since this was at the discretion of the immigration department in Malta following a request by the Philippine Consulate in Manila.

Besides this, one of my clients, a Maltese, wanted to visit my factory in the Philippines and after he enquired at the consulate, he was told that a visa was required and charged him over 30 liri for it, when in fact none was needed. When I brought this up with the consulate here, they just laughed.

It seems that the consulate wants to control anything which Filipinos residing in Malta are doing so that they can charge fees for their imposed intervention.

Because I spoke up and made it amply clear that I did not think it was fair for my compatriots to be treated in this manner, I was shouted at, verbally thrown out of the office and told in very crude language that he could do what he liked and that no one could touch him. I filmed the whole meeting on my DigiCam.

A few inquiries over the Internet, however, revealed that the Consul to the Philippines in Malta's term had expired on the 3rd of February 2007.

On the local newspaper, there was a call for all Filipinos in Malta to attend the Celebration of the Anniversary of Independence Day in the Philippines which was held last Sunday in Valletta.

I printed all the relative documentation which proved that the consulate was an “EX” and went to the venue in the hope of informing all the bona fide Filipinos there that they were no longer obliged to contribute to the Consul's coffers given that he was no longer their representative. Moreover, I insisted that he had no right to rally Filipinos to celebrate their Independence Day in Malta when in fact he was not any more connected to the consulate. I also objected to his flying my country's flag outside his office.

Once again, I was told to please leave, that my presence there was not welcome.

I would like all the press here to get their nose onto this in the hope that if any injustices have been suffered by Filpinos in Malta, some form of compensation or remedial action will be forthcoming.

Susana E.Higayon,
SuhiroMalta Limited


  1. I read with interest the letter by Susana E. Higayon, President of SuhiroMalta Limited, whereby she described the arrogant manner in which she was treated at the Consulate to the Philippines in Malta and appealed to the Filipino press to investigate any injustices being suffered by Filipinos in Malta.

    Sec. 25 of the Philippines Foreign Service Act of 1991 states that ‘Honorary consuls shall be appointed from among qualified private persons preferably of Philippine citizenship’. Yet the person who occupied the post of Honorary Consul General to the Philippines in Malta for many years until his term expired on the 3rd of February 2007 was a Maltese national. Besides it unfortunately appears that the Philippines Law does not have legal provisions to safeguard against abuse of power by Philippine Honorary Consuls, particularly where the person occupying the post is not of Philippine citizenship as in the case of Malta.

    It is also unfortunate and most disappointing that the Embassy of Republic of the Philippines in Tripoli, Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, that has jurisdiction over the Consulate General of Philippines in Malta, does not have any control over the Philippines Honorary Consul General in Malta where it comes fees and other requirements that he opts to impose on certain particular Filipino nationals for the purpose issuing them with a visa to be able to enter Malta, extending such visa to prolong their stay, or providing any other form of service. This when, as it has been rightly stated by Ms. Higayon, the consulate's intervention is in no way needed for the issue or extension of a visa to stay in Malta since this is at the complete discretion of the Principal Immigration Office in Malta following a request by the Philippine Consulate in Manila in the case of a request for the issue of a visa.

    This unjust situation prevailing in Malta seems to be justified under Philippines Law that gives the right to Honorary Consulates to impose additional requirements based on local laws and conditions. In this way, the Philippine Honorary Consul General in Malta can claim to be exercising this lawful right when he demands fees for services rendered and other requirements that would not be logically necessary.

    Some time ago a Filipino friend of mine who worked as an engineer with a foreign company operating in Malta requested me to help submit a notarised affidavit of support on behalf of his wife to the Philippine Honorary Consul General in Malta so that she would be granted a visa to visit him in Malta. When I presented the affidavit I was immediately charged a service fee and requested to furnish the Consul with a contract of service of this Filipina lady here in Malta together with a certificate from a minister of the Christian Catholic Church that I am unmarried. To me this was a clear abuse of power on the part of the Philippine Honorary Consul.

    With great patience I explained to the Philippines Honorary Consul that this lady had simply wished to have a holiday in Malta and at the same time take the opportunity to spend some time with her Filipino husband. I further explained to him that this lady had absolutely no intention of engaging herself in any form of employment. Besides it was ample clear that I was not inviting this lady for the purpose of marriage and therefore I could not see any reason for being requested to produce a certificate that I am an unmarried person. Apart from this, the official source for obtaining information about the civil status of a citizen in Malta is the Public Registry Office and not a minister of the Christian Catholic Church. In fact the Public Registry Office irrespective of one’s religious convictions issues this information.

    Unfortunately it seems that citizens of the Philippines in Malta are being greatly disadvantaged by the fact that there is no embassy (or consul) physically present to truly represent them. Past experience has clearly shown that the personnel at the local Honorary Consulate are not willing to provide assistance to all Filipino nationals requiring their service.

    Funnily enough when I last visited the Consulate to the Philippines in Malta seven months ago there was no publicly exhibited picture of Her Excellency Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, despite the fact that she had been in office as the 14th President of the Philippines ever since 20 January 2001. At the same time, quite astonishingly a very large picture of the ousted and now deposed 13th Philippine president Joseph Ejercito Estrada was still hanging high in the most prominent part at the main entrance to the Consulate office, giving the general impression that Estrada is the still the actual present Philippine president. According to the Philippines Honorary Consul the reason for the total absence of a picture of Macapagal-Arroyo at the consulate was that no picture of her had been supplied to him. Apart from that the Embassy of Republic of the Philippines in Tripoli had been kept uninformed of the fact that the mentioned Consulate had been moved to a new residence in Malta quite some time back.

    I conclude by joining Ms. Higayon in her preoccupations about the unnecessary difficulties that Filipinos in Malta have been encountering for many years. I totally agree that this is a case for the Filipino Press to look into.

    Denis Tanti
    Maltese Citizen with ID 660451(M)

  2. we have a different story regarding to that malta consulate in the philippines...i am just applying for a visit visa to malta but when i talk to the sarcastic secretary all infos is abstract.... she is very unethical shouting over the phone, etc..i suggested they have to disable thier service they are all sucks!