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Departures leave Consulate, POLO short-handed

19 September 2017

By Vir B. Lumicao

Assistant Labor Attaché Henry Tianero
gets a sendoff from Labor Attache Jalilo dela Torre
and staff.
The Consulate will be short-handed from mid-September, when Vice Consul Alex Vallespin of the assistance to nationals section leaves for his new assignment in Guam, with no replacement expected at least until early next year.

Consul General Bernardita Catalla is also expected to leave anytime in October for her new post as Philippine ambassador to Lebanon, aggravating the situation. Her designated successor, Ambassador Antonio Morales, is not expected to step in immediately, as his appointment has yet to be approved by the Hong Kong government.

Vallespin told the SUN he would be leaving for Agana on Sept 18.

A parallel staff shortage is also about to take place at the Philippine Overseas Labor Office, whose two assistant labor attachés end their three-year tour of duty this month but whose replacements won’t be coming over any time soon.

Deputy Consul General Roderic Atienza sought to allay concerns about the impending shortage of personnel, saying the Consulate would still render the same kind of service to its constituents.

“Gagawin pa rin namin ang aming makakaya upang mapaglingkuran namin ang ating mga kababayan nang buong-husay tulad ng serbisyong naibibigay namin sa kanila ngayon,” DCG Atienza told The SUN on Sept 3.

Deputy Consul General Roderic Atienza takes
over when Consul General Bernardita Catalla
leaves for Lebanon.
He said the replacements of Ambassador Catalla and Vice Consul Vallespin would not be able to take up their Hong Kong assignments soon because of diplomatic procedures, so the understaffing could stretch into early 2018.

Pending the arrival of Ambassador Morales after Congen Catalla leaves, DCG Atienza will be the officer-in-charge in Hong Kong.

Other staff at the Consulate said the two interim vacancies should not pose a problem as the current personnel would still be able to keep the outpost running normally.

But it could be a different situation over at POLO, where Assistant Labor Attaché Henry Tianero has gone on leave since Sept. 13, despite assuring that he would fly out of Hong Kong two weeks after the arrival of his replacement.

Also expected to end her tour of duty soon is ALA Maria Nena German, POLO’s liaison officer with employment agencies and representative on the Technical Working Group.

Labor Attache Jalilo dela Torre told The SUN earlier that their replacements, both also assistant labor attachés, would come from the POLOs in Singapore and a Gulf state.

Labatt Dela Torre said the situation at POLO would be tough as, even with the two ALAs around, staff had to work on their holidays to serve OFWs with transactions whose days off fall on the labor office’s weekend.

He said he had requested for additional four personnel from the home office but was not sure when the new staff would come.
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