CI hosts largest Filipino community in Caribbean
(CNS): With more than 2677 work permit holders as well as a growing number of permanent residents and status holders, the Cayman Islands is home to the largest number of Filipinos in the Caribbean officials from the Washington-based Philippines Embassy revealed on their recent visit to the jurisdiction. Some 450 of Cayman’s Filipinos came out to meet First Secretary and Consul Arlene Tullid-Magno and Welfare Officer Saul De Vries when they were here last week on a trip facilitated by the deputy governor’s office. (Photo Lennon Christian)
It is estimated that around 8.5 million Filipinos live outside the Philippines across the world. In the United States there are about four million Filipino immigrants, making them the second-largest immigrant group in the United States after Mexican immigrants.
The Philippines is the fourth largest recipient of remittances in the world and the money sent back by Filipino overseas workers from around the globe now contributes well over US$20 billion annually to the local economy which has struggled to recover following the Marcos years.
It was during theinfamous Marcos reign that many Filipinos left their country for a better life as a result of the severe economic depression, lack of job opportunities and political oppression.
During their visit to the Cayman Islands, the delegation from Washington was accompanied by the local Philippines Honourary Consul Arturo Ursua. Although not formally appointed, he has been acting as a liaison officer for some time and was commended by Tullid-Magno “for doing a great job since 2008 – largely because of the Cayman government’s acceptance and support of his work.”
After making diplomatic calls on top government officials, the Filipino visitors conducted three days of meetings and official transactions with Filipino nationals, such as passport renewals, replacements and other services. Three other embassy staffers formed the delegation.
According to the latest immigration figures Filipinos are the second largest group of nationals on work permits in Cayman beaten only be Jamaicans with more than 8200 permits.
Tullid-Magno also spoke about the diplomatic problem which was settled earlier this year after a short deployment ban was imposed on Filipino workers for the Cayman Islands. The ban has been suspended, and the official said the action was initiated by the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency.
“There was never an issue of the Cayman Islands not being in compliance,” the diplomat noted.
Meanwhile, although liaisons with Cayman fall under the auspices of the Philippines Embassy in London, issues in the Americas are usually managed by the Washington Embassy. With the closure of its Venezuela embassy in July and the Havana office later this month, the Philippines Embassy in Washington is taking on the role for the entire region.
The Philippine officials are working alongside the Cayman government to establish an officially sanctioned local presence. Once established in Cayman, an Honorary Consul would process applications for e-passports that are issued in Manila, serve as a civil registry of births, marriages and deaths, authenticate documents, and assist nationals who are ill or imprisoned.
Government officials said another reason for the visit from the embassy representative was to register Filipino nationals for next year’s general elections in the Philippines, in which they can participate via absentee ballots. The officials also administered oaths to those Filipinos here in Cayman that have acquired local status to recover their Filipino nationality as they are allowed under the country’s laws to hold dual citizenship.
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