By Roy Mabasa
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has assured its diplomats serving in different Asia-Pacific posts of all the support and resources they need to allow them to effectively look after the needs of Filipinos in their respective jurisdictions.
In a speech before some 30 ambassadors and consul generals at the closing ceremony of the two-day command conference in Taguig City over the weekend, DFA Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said: “The President (Rodrigo Duterte) expects us to look after the needs of our people and we will do just that.”
“We would like to assure our embassies and consulates abroad that they shall have all the support and resources they need to allow them to serve our people quicker and better,” Cayetano added.
He emphasized the need for Philippine foreign service posts to continue improving the delivery of consular services and in extending assistance to nationals in distress abroad.
According to the DFA chief, this guidance is in line with the President’s explicit directive to ensure that all government agencies are able to provide quick, efficient and enhanced services to Filipinos all over the world.
The conference is the latest of several regional consultations organized by the DFA to update Filipino diplomats on the efforts to protect the rights and promote the welfare of Filipinos abroad.
For the first time under the Duterte administration, a similar regional conference was held last January outside the Philippines – in Milan, Italy – for the Middle East, African, and European Posts.
Meeting with a dozen of Philippine diplomats in the high-fashion city of Milan, Cayetano and his wife, Taguig City Mayor Lani Cayetano, reportedly brought with them a coterie of a personal entourage, among them Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson and Office of Migrant Affairs Undersecretary Sara Arriola. Arriola was a former senior staff of the then Senator Cayetano prior to her appointment at the DFA.
DFA sources who requested anonymity said the supposedly two-day conference in Milan was cut short to just one day for still unknown reasons, with the Filipino diplomats reportedly ending up fending for their own airfares, meals, and lodging in that expensive Italian city.