No immediate plans for US consulate reopening in Cebu, says envoy
CEBU CITY — United States Ambassador to the Philippines MaryKay Carlson announced that there are “no immediate plans” to reopen the United States Consulate in Cebu for processing visas and other consular services due to budget and other constraints.
During a roundtable meeting with reporters in Cebu City on Friday, May 19, Carlson said the government is currently prioritizing the establishment and reestablishment of diplomatic relations with other Pacific island nations.
“Let me just say that if I personally had the budget and if it were up to me, we never would have left and we certainly would be right back,” she said.
“I know that it is challenging because of the extra cost to get to Manila which is why we are streamlining as much as we can the processes,” Carlson said.
She said the United States Embassy in Manila will have extended office hours to accommodate visa processing, particularly for provinces outside of the National Capital Region, and to facilitate streamlined renewal of existing visa holders.
The Embassy now has more staff members to process visas compared to when the COVID-19 pandemic started. In fact, more visa applications are being processed now than in 2019 or prior to the pandemic, Carlson said.
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The presence of a United States Consulate in Cebu would have provided convenient access for those in Visayas and Mindanao, eliminating the need to travel to the Embassy in Manila.
The ambassador said the reopening of the Consulate in Cebu largely depends on the budget allocated by the United States Congress.
“While there are no immediate plans, it’s on the radar. Again, that separation of powers and (US) Congress holding the budget. We will be lobbying for that,” she said.
Carlson said there is bipartisan support in the United States for strengthening relations with the Philippines. the Embassy in Manila.
Carlson said the reopening of the Consulate in Cebu would depend largely on the budget given by the United States’ Congress.
“No immediate plans but it’s on the radar. Again, that separation of powers, and (US) Congress holding the budget. Will be lobbying for that,” she said.
Carlson said there is bi-partisan support on the side of the United States for strengthening its relations with the Philippines.
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