Philippine Consulate, San Diego County
***STATEMENT FROM THE HONORARY CONSUL****
Dear community, My office has received many inquiries about the Los Angeles Consulate General website not working. I understand the frustration. Although my jurisdiction is San Diego County, I proudly work as a member of the Los Angeles team. In that regard, I would like to offer some insight.
The LA Consulate General serves one of the largest jurisdictions of Filipino-Americans in the world. In the pre-COVID era, it received hundreds of calls, emails, and visitors every day. The LA team also handles jail visits, assistance to foreign nationals, promoting the country's interests, and supporting the community. These alone can be daunting under normal times. These are not normal times.
When the pandemic hit, all Consulates in the U.S. were forced to close. This created a major backlog of requests. When offices re-opened, many Consulates (LA and SD included) voluntarily returned in order to provide services. Consular officers and staff are at RISK of exposure to illness, every single day. To mitigate this, staffing is leaner, efficiencies are necessarily lower, and accommodations are fewer. Please understand that. It is more difficult than ever to make exceptions.
As the Honorary Consul for San Diego County, I can assure you that there is NOT a single member of the LA or SD team that enjoys saying "no" to a constituent or being fully unable to assist. But, these are trying times. The offices receive emergency requests every day, ranging from illness, imminent or actual deaths, arrests, abuse, and other major issues. These have actually compounded during the pandemic, since there are more illnesses and deaths. These are even further compounded by the preexisting backlog, the reduction in staff, and all of the COVID restrictions that must be complied with. These, of course, have spilled over into the San Diego office, which has an even smaller staff of volunteers.
Due to the growing backlog, the website received an extraordinary amount of activity, causing an unforeseeable crash. Many were angry, and I witnessed backlash.
I speak on behalf of all my colleagues when I say that we truly love the community and want to serve you well. We are human, and we make mistakes. But many of us are risking our lives (some voluntarily) because we want to serve. For that reason, I am proud of the LA team and will be by their side. I hope you will join me by showing patience and understanding.
Audie de Castro, Honorary Consul