Petition calling for Cato’s return circulating; to be sent to BBM

Philippine Consulate building: A petition is out there seeking clarity on the future of its consul general

By Cristina DC Pastor

A petition is currently circulating among Filipino communities in the Northeast calling for the “immediate return” of Consul General Elmer Cato to his post in New York.

The letter on the “protracted stay in the Philippines and immediate return” of Consul General Elmer Cato is being organized by Crispin Fernandez, MD, president of FILIPINAS Inc. The letter is addressed to Foreign Secretary Enrique Manalo, with copies to be provided also to President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., Vice-President Sara Duterte, Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez, and Senator Imee Marcos, chairperson, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

The letter reads:

“Dear Secretary,

“As you begin your journey, please accept our warmest congratulations on your appointment as Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs. Your appointment heralds new opportunities for cooperation with the Filipino community in all the countries where Philippine ambassadorial and consular posts are located worldwide. 

“With all humility and due respect, we seek clarity, in the face of unfounded and unverifiable speculation, regarding our people’s Consul General Elmer G. Cato’s protracted stay in the Philippines. 

“We bring to your attention ConGen Cato’s demonstrable and repeated calls for unity, exhibited loyalty to the Republic he has sworn to serve and sustained calls for community support for H. E. President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. 

“We are unaware of the veracity of speculations over any political partisanship on the part of Consul General Cato. Instead, we’ve witnessed and heard him on multiple public occasions call for unity and respect for government institutions. He has exploited conceivably all platforms to disseminate timely information, involved all sectors of the Filipino community from teachers. nurses, doctors, LGBTQIA, household service workers, the visual and performing arts, legal and financial professionals, etc. 

“The recent successful hosting of the Filipino community visit with PBBM, tireless community outreach, advisories against anti-Asian Hate crimes, productivity improvements at the consulate and the recent national elections despite logistical delays and COVID spreading among the consulate staff are but some of the achievements of the NYPCG during ConGen Cato’s tenure.  

“We ask this, in part as testimony of his devoted service to our community despite a most circumstantially challenging period. This letter is our attestation of these undeniable facts. We hope your kind office soon instructs Consul General Cato to return to his post in New York to resume and complete all of the community activities that remain undone.


Photo: Philippine Consulate website

Fernandez has confirmed to The FilAm the authenticity of the petition. “The letter is authentic and it is from me,” he said in an email.

His instruction is for organizations across the 10 Northeast states to sign the letter with the name of the organization, the name of an official representing the organization and an email address. The consulate has jurisdiction over the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont. The letter by FILIPINAS will be sent together with letters from all other organizations, he said.

The petition was prompted by the absence of Cato from his post since September 11. His disappearance became more of a mystery during the visit of Marcos Jr. who spoke before the United Nations General Assembly on September 20. Heads of posts, by protocol and by tradition, usually welcome the president and his party.

Cato shared with The FilAm that he is recovering from “stress-related gastro issues” and was advised to rest for two weeks. He said he is “hoping to be back” in NYC after he is cleared by his doctor.

© The FilAm 2022

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