Bohol First District Rep. Edgar Chatto has filed a bill at the House of Representatives seeking the establishment of a Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) consular office in Tagbilaran City, which would be the first in the entire province and is seen to benefit thousands of Boholano overseas Filipino workers (OFW).
In House Bill 8767, Chatto states it is “imperative” for the DFA to open an office in the province to offer both passport-related and regular consular functions to provide convenience to Boholanos particularly OFWs.
He highlighted that the province is home to at least 50,000 OFWs.
“At present, Boholanos in need of consular services are forced to travel to Nergos Occidental, Cebu and Manila which is a waste of time, effort and resources,” said Chatto.
Chatto, in an interview over station dyRD on Monday, said he has sought the assistance of Zamboanga, Sibugay Second District Rep. Ann Hofer, who chairs the House of Representatives’ foreign affairs committee, to expedite the scheduling of the bill’s hearing.
“Nag-file na ta og House Bill niiini na karon na-refer na sa committee on foreign affairs ug atong gikahinabi ang chairman niini Congresswoman Hofer para mapadali kini og schedule og hearing kay gusto g’yud nato mabuksan ang branch sa DFA dinhi sa atong lalawigan,” Chatto said.
Chatto has been spearheading Bohol’s efforts to push for the establishment of a DFA office in Bohol since he was governor of the province.
He initially made an appeal to former DFA secretary Allan Peter Cayetano then current Sec. Teddy Boy Locsin, but after being elected as congressman in 2019, Chatto decided to take the legislative route.
Chatto’s bill was filed in February this year and it was then referred to the lower chamber’s foreign affairs committee.
“Tungod kay naa pay budget na kinahanglan niini, mao nay hinungdan na ni desidir kita na instead of going through the administrative process na pinaagi sa DFA, atong na gyuy gi-filan og balaudnon na mahimo siyang permanente na approved,” said Chatto.
According to Chatto, the need for the DFA office in the province grew further due to the movement restrictions imposed amid the lingering COVID-19 pandemic.
He said the existing travel safety protocols hamper the public’s movement within the country, particularly to Cebu and Metro Manila where the DFA offices are located.
The veteran legislator also noted that a DFA office will also be beneficial to foreign nationals residing in the province and to tourists once the island’s tourism industry reopens and recovers from the pandemic.
“Inbing balik pohon sa turismo, naay mga dayo na mo bisita dinhi sa ato, naa say mga foreign nationals na residente dinhi sa atong lalawigan, so daghan na gyud ang transactions,” he added.