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2 new officers fill key Consulate posts

22 March 2018

By Vir B. Lumicao

Two key posts at the Consulate that had been vacant for some time were filled in recent weeks with the arrival of new diplomatic officials from Manila.

Consul Paulo V. Saret, a lawyer, arrived on Feb. 20, and immediately took over the top post in the assistance to nationals section of the Consulate.

Consul Paulo V. Saret
The post used to be occupied by Vice Consul Alex Vallespin, who was moved to the Consulate in Agana, Guam last September. Vice Consul Bob Quintin, who was also in charge of the cultural section, took over temporarily until Consul Saret’s arrival.

Over at the Philippine Overseas Labor Office, Angelica Suñga arrived on Mar 4 to assume the post of assistant labor attaché which became vacant when Henry Tianero was moved to Malaysia in September last year, after serving in Hong Kong for three years.

The energetic Saret and youthful Suñga are expected to help return operations to normal at both the Consulate and POLO, which is under the Department of Labor and Employment.

Early next month, former Social Welfare Attache Elizabeth Lim-Dy will also return to Hong Kong to reopen her office at the ATN that closed down after her recall to Manila at the end of July last year.

The 49-year-old Saret told The SUN this is his third foreign assignment since he joined the Department of Foreign Affairs in 2006.

After two years at the DFA, he was posted in Riyadh as ATN officer. He returned home after his tour of duty. His next posting was as head of ATN at the embassy in Jakarta 

A graduate of Bachelor of Laws from San Beda University, the Bicolano diplomat had originally worked as a corporate lawyer at the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp for seven years after passing the bar.

He passed the Foreign Service Officers exams in 2004 but delayed his career shift for two years so he could finish a case he was assigned to handle at the PDIC.   

ALA Geli Suñga is a registered nurse by profession who worked for a year at POLO in Dubai before shifting to the private sector as a human resources executive for DM Healthcare Group, a company that supplied staff to Middle East hospitals.

She is the first nurse to be assigned to POLO Hong Kong and its youngest-ever ALA.

ALA Geli Suñga
Suñga, a 28-year-old Pampangueña, took up her POLO post on Mar 4 to fill the void caused by the departure of ALA Henry Tianero on Sept 13 last year. At her age, ALA Geli may look like a neophyte in a job that requires tact in dealing with individual workers who seek assistance for a variety of problems and in talking sense on OFW affairs with employers and employment agencies.

Looks are deceptive, though.

The University of the Assumption nursing graduate told the SUN in a recent interview in her office that before she came to Hong Kong, she worked at POLO Dubai for a year in 2012, verifying work contracts.

Then she joined the private sector as a human resource executive at DM Healthcare Group for four years.

Her job at Dubai-based DM Healthcare was to review contracts and monitor companies that were employing Filipino professional such as doctors, nurses, and paramedical staff to ensure that the employers were complying with salary standards. One time, she had to point out to an Indian company that the US$3,500 it was paying Filipino doctors with five years of experience was way below the $5,000 standard rate.

With her job experience, Suñga rejoined the Department of Labor and Employment in Manila last year and was considered for the position left vacant by Tianero.

On Day One, she spent her time observing the busy Sunday activity on the 18th floor POLO office at Mass Mutual Tower in Wanchai. The crowd that Sunday was large, as OFWs with children graduating in April began queuing up for overseas employment certificates or exemptions.

Yet, despite the overcrowding in the OEC section of the public area and corridors, Suñga was impressed at the process in Hong Kong.

“It’s very systematic here, more than in the Middle East,” she said.

 ALA Geli says she is proactive when serving her compatriots. As a nurse, she may be able to provide a human touch when dealing with OFWs who seek her assistance, especially those due for repatriation because they are sick.

Her job at POLO Dubai did not cover domestic workers in the United Arab Emirates, but Suñga said she had read numerous reports of abuses against the workers there.

“Parang nakikita ko na mas OK ang situation ng mga DH sa Hong Kong kaysa doon sa Middle East,” she said.

A conversation with Tianero shortly before she came to Hong Kong and a research on what she could expect to see first-hand have made Suñga well-informed of issues.

She said she was aware, too, of political undercurrents at POLO Hong Kong, and that she
believed her boss, Labor Attaché Jalilo dela Torre, would survive the challenge.

“I don’t think na ma-recall naman si Labatt dahil he’s really good, kasi yung strength niya talaga para ma-protect yung workers. Firm lang talaga siya sa kanyang mga decisions,” Suñga said.
She said, after all, what Labatt Jali is doing is for the good of all OFWs.


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