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22/04/2013: Embassy Moves to Help Pinoys Keep Jobs in the Bahamas

22 April 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Philippine Embassy has asked authorities in the Bahamas to let Filipinos there keep their jobs for the time being in view of a new labor policy that seeks to reduce the ranks of the unemployed by transferring jobs being held by foreigners to locals.

In a statement, the Embassy said it had conveyed the Philippine Government’s request to authorities in the Commonwealth of the Bahamas during a visit to the capital, Nassau, early this month by a consular team dispatched by Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr.

“We presented Manila’s position on behalf of many of the more than 1,000 Filipinos in Bahamas, particularly housekeepers, cooks, hotel employees and medical workers who stand to lose their jobs as a result of the so-called Bahamianization of the local labor force,” said Consul General Ariel Penaranda who headed the consular team that also included Labor Attache Luzviminda Padilla.

Consul General Penaranda said he and Labor Attache Padilla expressed their appreciation to Permanent Secretary Philip Miller of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration; Secretary Elizabeth Gardiner-Keju of the Ministry of Labor and National Insurance; Director Harcourt Brown of the Ministry of Labor; and Commissioner Ellison Greenslade, Chief of the Royal Bahamas Police Force for recognizing the contribution of the Filipino Community to Bahamas society.

However, the two officials, who were accompanied by Philippine Honorary Consul to the Bahamas Gonzalo Bolisay, voiced their concern over the reported plan of Bahamas authorities to suspend the issuance of work permits to foreign workers as this would impact negatively on Filipino workers there.

Consul General Penaranda said Bahamanian officials explained that while they recognize the contributions of Filipino workers to their society, their priority is to provide employment to their own citizens, many of who are presently without jobs.

“The position of the Bahamas authorities is completely understandable but it would be greatly appreciated if our workers could be allowed to keep their jobs for the time being and at the same time be assured of certainty in terms of renewing their work permits so they could plan ahead,” Labor Attache Padilla said.

In addition to labor concerns, the consular team, which also included Welfare Officer Saul de Vries and staff members Renell Martinez, Larry Sumando, Carlota Halili-Castaneda and Ma. Lyra Ocampo, processed passport renewals and provided other consular services to the members of the Filipino Community.

Diplomatic relations between the Philippines and the Bahamas were established as early as 1976 but it was the first time the Embassy in Washington, D.C. conducted an outreach mission since it assumed consular jurisdiction over the Bahamas following the closure of the Philippine Embassy in Havana last year.

The Bahamas consists of more than 700 islands, cays and islets in the Atlantic Ocean, north of Cuba and southeast of Florida. It became an independent British Commonwealth realm in 1973 and retained Queen Elizabeth II as monarch. ###

21 April 2013

BAHAMAS OUTREACH. Consul General Ariel R. Penaranda receives a plaque of appreciation from Commissioner Ellison Greenslade of the Royal Bahamas Police after a courtesy call in Nassau on 5 April 2013. (Philippine Embassy Photo by Quiling Capuli)

21 April 2013

BAHAMAS OUTREACH. Consul General Ariel R. Penaranda poses with Bahamas Permanent Secretary Philip Miller, Honorary Consul Gonzalo Bolisay and Labor Attache Luzviminda Padilla during a courtesy call at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration in Nassau on 5 April 2013. (Philippine Embassy Photo by Noli Ajero)

21 April 2013

BAHAMAS OUTREACH. Consul General Ariel R. Penaranda and Honorary Consul Gonzalo Bolisay engage Filipoinos in the Bahamas during a consular outreach by the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. on 5 April 2013. (Philippine Embassy Photo by Lyra Ocampo)

21 April 2013

BAHAMAS OUTREACH. Members of the Philippine Embassy’s Consular Outreach Team provide passport renewal and other consular services to Filipinos in the Bahamas. (Philippine Embassy Photo by Larry Sumando).