(MENAFN- Khaleej Times) The Philippine Consulate-General in Dubai registered a whopping 1,550 per cent hike in the number of applications for NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) clearance, the Philippine equivalent of certificate of good conduct (CGC), in the first 20 days of February as compared to January this year, the head of the Philippine diplomatic post revealed.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Consul-General Paul Raymund Cortes said the PCG has received 1,945 NBI clearance applications from February 1-20 while the number was only 125 requests last month. The spike was brought about by the new rule requiring CGC for new work visas in the UAE on February 4.
Cortes said the Philippine government has been issuing NBI clearance to Filipino migrant workers even prior to the implementation of the CGC or police clearance certificate, when it is required by the employers or when Filipinos migrate abroad.
But the figures were minuscule last year. "Only 955 NBI clearance certificates were processed by the PCG for the entire year of 2017 and in December last year, there were only 60 applicants. The figures in the first 20 days of February alone are more than double that what we had last year," Cortes explained.
"The stats will figure in our planning for appropriate human and financial resources to serve the expectations and deliver a more efficient and effective public service to our kababayans (compatriots) in Dubai and the Northern Emirates," Cortes told Khaleej Times.
The PCG has already launched an online appointment system for the fingerprinting of NBI clearance on February 11 but only 100 slots are allotted per day and all the fingerprinting appointments are now fully booked until the end of March.
The requirement for CGC has resulted in the surge of Filipino jobseekers trooping to the consulate resulting in long queues and "re-shuffling of consular staff," according to Cortes.
To lessen the crowd at the consulate, Cortes appealed to his kababayans (compatriots) to come to the consulate only when they have an appointment to do fingerprinting for the NBI clearance.
"I have made a video (shared on consul-general official Facebook page) detailing how to apply for an NBI clearance," Cortes said. "The first step is to take a fingerprinting appointment online and come only to the consulate when you have an appointment. Fingerprinting can also be done at the Dubai Police HQ in Al Qiyadah," Cortes said.
"We are sorry but we can only accommodate around 100 applicants because we only have one staff dedicated for this process as we have other consular duties like passport renewal, notarial services and assistance to nationals - and we can not pull out staff who are doing other consular functions," Cortes underlined.
"The appointment system is very important because this is how we managed and made passport processing systematic," Cortes added.
Cortes earlier said that on the average, they are issuing 500 copies of the NBI Form 5 daily and they have already requested for 20,000 forms from the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in Manila.
Meanwhile, the PCG has a received a new senior diplomat. Renato N. Dueas, Jr. arrived on February 14 from his last post in Cairo to serve as the Philippine deputy consul-general in Dubai.
The PCG has now a total of 48 staff - composed of four senior diplomats, 30 organic staff from DFA Manila and 14 local hires.
Dueas, 45, who has 19 years of foreign service experience was previously posted in Tehran, Tripoli and Cairo.
"Our diplomatic mission in Dubai is one of the busiest posts in the world. I hope to contribute to improving the services we provide to our kababayans in Dubai," added the former art teacher who turned diplomat.
Mark the date: Philippine consul-general Paul Raymund Cortes will be on Facebook Live on March 2 at 4pm to answer the questions of Filipino expats in Dubai. Follow:
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