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Tuesday, August 19, 2014
THE other day my sister, who is the youngest in the family at 70 years old, called me and said that the request she made from the Bureau of Immigration here a couple of months ago has been unanswered yet. She had waited since there was a reshuffle in the bureau. The bureau chief, whose father was a prominent political personality in the city, was transferred to Cagayan de Oro City. But even then, she was hopeful.
My sister, Lorna, had married a citizen of Sweden, Arne Hansson. He became a transport system consultant of the World Bank and Asia Development Bank some years back.
Hansson, who is also in his seventies, had travelled around the world, mostly in Africa and Asia.
When they were in the Philippines in the late nineties, Hansson helped develop the Manila-Davao highway. But he has been overtaken by Alzheimer’s disease, and they have decided to transfer residence to Cebu. That is why they sought assistance from the Bureau of Immigration for his permanent residency document.
They found out that it is quite expensive to secure permanent residency documents if you are an alien, even if one has married a Filipina, because even the latter can lose her citizenship, too.
That is why many months ago, my sister reacquired her citizenship that she sort of “lost” when they were in Cambodia. When she got it back and secured a Filipino passport, Arne also did the same. He secured documents that allowed him to stay in the Philippines, too.
But then, they had to leave Manila hastily and forgot to report or something to the bureau. Thus, on their return last year, they had to renew documents.
They were lucky then because the local Immigration chief was Jun Madarang. But there was a reshuffle of assignments, and Jun found himself in Cagayan de Oro. That was when the new chief asked for a document that required Arne to do some paper works and sign them personally.
But since he is an “Alzheimer” victim, he could not do it anymore. His wife (my sister) was directed to go to Manila.
I helped my sister frame the letter-request. Someone was directed by the new chief to personally attend to the request. But that was many months ago. Recently, Jun got back his old assignment in Cebu even as I accompanied my sister to the Bureau’s Mandaue office. Until then, there was no word from Manila.
Once more, Jun directed a member of his staff to help. The letter request was resent to Manila. Up to now, Manila has not responded.
I do not know whether I could claim that “red tape” is somehow involved here on the Manila end. I like to think that there is no reason for us here to charge the bureau’s main office in Manila for red tape in this case. I cannot think of any reason for this oversight to be intentional except perhaps if there is no one we could depend on there to do it for us. Could it not be considered “red tape” too?
Just the same, the fact is that while aliens in Cebu are receiving good “treatment,” out there they are not.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 20, 2014.