By Ben Garcia
KUWAIT: Following a decision by the Kuwaiti building owner for the early termination of the lease agreement with the Philippine Embassy (due to security concerns over a royal palace nearby), effective Jan 17, the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait announced temporary mobile passport validity extension-only consular services at the Kuwait Disabled Club in Hawally. Due to strict health protocols, the mobile consular service will focus only on the extension of passport validity, which started on Feb 5-6 (every Fridays and Saturdays). The next mobile passport extension services will be on Feb 12-13, Feb 19-20 and Feb 26-27.
“This is the primary concern of many Filipinos today because their iqamas will not be renewed (by their employers) if their passports’ validity is less than a year. To address this concern, the Philippine Embassy, with the support of some Filipino organizations here in Kuwait, will run a mobile consular service every weekend during the entire month of February, strictly for the extension of passport validity only,” said Philippine Vice Consul Adrian Baccay.
“We understand consular services are important to our people in Kuwait. However, these unforeseen circumstances are out of our control. But we are thankful to the Kuwait authorities for authorizing us to temporarily conduct mobile consular services at the Kuwait Disabled Club. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kuwait and our Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila were informed about this, so the service is sanctioned by both governments,” said Baccay, who is also the official spokesperson of the embassy.
To avoid crowding and strictly follow health protocols, the embassy has sought the support of the Ministry of Interior and some Filipino organizations to man the venue. The embassy also advised Filipinos to come to the venue only if their passports have expired or are near expiry.
“To observe social distancing at the venue, we urge individuals and our clients to please bring all necessary documents including the duly filled-out passport application forms. Bring the original passport and a photocopy of it, plus a photocopy of the civil ID. Also, please have the exact amount of KD 6.500 for payment,” Baccay said. “Do not come to the venue if you feel unwell, have a dry cough, high body temperature or loss of taste and smell,” he reiterated.
Baccay explained that although they closed the embassy on Jan 17, the Assistance to the Nationals Unit (ATNU) of the embassy continues. “We never stopped working even as we transfer our documents to our new location. We are organizing this temporary service of passport extension validity to help our fellow countrymen as ordered by our Ambassador Noordin Pendosina Lomondot,” Baccay said. “Our new temporary embassy will be in Sabah Al-Salem. It’s ready now, but several formalities have to be tacked,” he concluded.