President Rodrigo Duterte will soon have his highest-ranking representative in Washington to serve as the Philippine ambassador to the United States, replacing the previous envoy who stepped down from his post more than a year ago.
Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano in a television interview revealed that the department is eyeing someone to take the position.
“Soon, soon, we will have [a Philippine ambassador]. I was told we’re vetting one person. I can’t say yet until I submit the papers…” Cayetano said in an interview with ABS-CBN.
However, he did not confirm if it would be Jose Manuel “Babe” Romualdez, who was reappointed by Duterte to be the special envoy to the U.S. on July 10.
“I cannot say yet until I submit the papers but Babe is our special envoy and he continues to represent the country and continues to build bridges with the U.S. so we’re not counting him out,” Cayetano said.
The secretary also stressed that not having a Philippine envoy to foreign countries was “bad” for the country.
“First we have to put our ambassadors,” Cayetano said. “Having said that, national treasures pa rin naman yung iba, yung sa past administration regardless if we agree with their views or not. (Ambassadors from past administrations are still national treasures.)”
Cayetano, who was Duterte’s running mate in the 2016 national elections, explained that political differences should not hinder the efforts of putting the best interests of the country first.
“Hindi tayo pwedeng mag Duterte, anti-Duterte, opposition-administration. (We cannot be pr-Duterte, anti-Duterte, opposition-administration anymore),” said Cayetano.
Last year, prior to the reappointment of Romualdez, Duterte initially tapped Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana to replace former PH ambassador to the U.S., Jose Cuisia, Jr.
Lorenzana, however, turned down the offer. Duterte then said he would name his protocol chief Marciano Paynor to the post but Paynor’s appointment did not materialize as he was tasked to help in preparing for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Manila.
In February of this year, Duterte said in a speech that he was not keen on sending a Philippine ambassador to America due to U.S. President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, such as a travel ban on several countries, though the Philippines was not included.
He explained that he respects the decision of Trump and that he “would not lift a finger” in case undocumented Filipinos were caught in the U.S. (AJPress)