Delay seen with NY PH consulate’s implementation of “Queue-Less” appointment system

by Ricky Rillera

Typical day at the Philippine Consulate in New York before COVID-19 restrictions.  Photo  |  PCGNY Website

NEW YORK – The much-touted Queue-Less and Queuing Appointment System, which the consulate said would provide an efficient and effective service to the public, is perhaps in limbo. It may only be operational until they have resolved some issues with it, according to Deputy Consul General Kerwin Tate.

“There are some issues in technical details we’ve encountered in our dry runs of the system,” Tate told the Philippine Daily Mirror. “Once we’re confident that the system will work as expected, we will, of course, ask for your assistance, as our community partners.”

Consul General Claro S. Cristobal first announced to the local media of the new system during a February presser, which was supposed to be his last with the group after completing a six-month extension of his term in April. The new system will also be used by all Philippine consular offices worldwide.

“People will be alerted in 20 minutes, before they come,” Cristobal said with enthusiasm at that time. He set a target date of April for its implementation.

“Almost all Philippine consulates will have an appointment system in place as a result of social distancing/crowd control policies,” Tate also said. “Although, there will be variations in implementation.”

At a virtual meeting on April 18, with New York State still on lockdown, the consul general said again that the system would be ready when the consulate presumably reopens May 16, a day after the state was expected to lift COVID-19 restrictions. He added that the public and leaders of community organizations will be informed a week before they re-opened utilizing email, social media, and the consulate’s Facebook page. An advisory notice was posted in the consulate’s Facebook page on May 13 with instructions of how to book an appointment.

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The delay of the implementation of the Queue-Less and Queuing Appointment System is not the only issue that the consulate is faced with. For years, it also has not resolved its telephone system, which had caused problems in servicing telephone calls from the public. The current system can only accommodate limited calls at one time due to its trunking system, according to the consulate.

This continues to draw complaints from people who try to reach them by telephone. Apparently, all Philippine consular offices in the US, including the embassy in Washington, DC have the same problem. There were attempts at changing the telephone system for decades but its implementation had either been put on hold or stuck with the status quo due to the amount of financial investment, which a change required.

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