DFA hails PGMA's foreign policy success as nation's 'chief diplomat'
Manila (2 June) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's foreign policy, described by Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo as "people-oriented," drew applause during a retrospective seminar marking the 112th founding anniversary of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) yesterday (June 1) at its new Office of the Consular Affairs Building in Parañaque City.
Romulo, further citing a number of successful foreign policy initiatives and achievements, called the outgoing Chief Executive as the nation's "chief diplomat."
"To the President, the life of every single Filipino is precious. She would do whatever it takes to make sure that no Filipino blood is spilt on foreign soil; thus she worked hard to have death sentences commuted," Romulo said in his welcome remarks.
Romulo also credited the persistence of President Arroyo with the passage in the United States Congress of the veterans bill giving extra benefits to Filipino World War II veterans.
"She also made sure that the global Filipino gets the best in consular services and are allowed to exercise the right to suffrage, thus the electronic passport, the new consular building and the Overseas Absentee Voting law," Romulo added.
The President, according to Romulo, also made sure that Philippine foreign policies are independent and that Philippine sovereignty and territory are respected through the Baselines Law passed by the Philippine Congress last year.
Romulo said that President Arroyo figured well in the signing of the Declaration of Conduct in the South China Sea, the shift to an "all-out peace policy" in Mindanao, pushing for interfaith initiatives culminating in the hosting of the Special Non Aligned Movement Ministerial Meeting on Interfaith Dialogue and Cooperation for Peace and Development last March in Manila.
According to Romulo, President Arroyo also strengthened bilateral and multilateral relations and ensured a nuclear-free world through the recently concluded, highly successful Philippine presidency of the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty.
Before this the President also committed Philippine support to the United States-led initiative during the Nuclear Security Summit in the US that called for prompt moves by nations to guard the possibility of nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists.
The President's high level visits, Romulo said, reaped many benefits for the Filipino people, adding that through her 10 years of economic diplomacy, the country was able to attract a number of significant investments and official development assistance, particularly those that triggered the boom of the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector.
"Indeed the DFA owes a lot to the President. As her people in the foreign service, we have many things to thank her for. She has appointed more career ambassadors and consul generals at 72.83 percent. In signing Executive Order 6, she upgraded the allowances of foreign service personnel. With better standard of living, they can honorably represent the country abroad. It is only during her term that we were allowed to set up a Provident Fund, thus ensuring financial security of DFA employees upon retirement," Romulo said.
"In international fora, President Arroyo has no peer. Her fellow Heads of State listen to her. Listening to the debates, my fellow Foreign Ministers would approach me and express how impressed they are," he said.
He said the DFA's achievements in the past years are due to the "strong leadership and support of our President.
"These are her sterling achievements. And we in the DFA are proud to have been her guiding and helping arm in achieving her visions for the country," Romulo said.
DFA reports achievements to PGMA
Manila (2 June) -- The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) achieved more during the more than nine years under President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo than in other previous administrations, citing the President's people-centered foreign policy, her strong sense of national security and institution building.
This was reported by Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo following the retrospective seminar held on the 112th founding anniversary of the DFA held yesterday (June 1) at the new Office of Consular Affairs in Parañaque City.
From 2001 to 2010, the lives of 33 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) with death convictions have been saved. Of these, 15 have been repatriated while the rest are waiting for the end of their sentences or possible earlier release. Some of the cases entailed high level representations, Romulo said.
With the ePassport, Filipino travelers now enjoy smooth and hassle-free travel passing through immigration counters in less than five minutes. The country's ePassport is among the least expensive, with a turnaround application time of less than two weeks. The ePassport are now more accessible with the opening of 13 new foreign service posts and eight new regional consular offices, bringing the total number of RCOs to 18.
Around 1,627 mobile passport missions are all over the Philippines, Romulo said.
Through strong and persistent representations by the Arroyo administration, the Veterans Bill was passed which extended $198 million in additional benefits to Filipino veterans.
The Philippines forged labor agreements with various countries to open up employment opportunities for OFWs and to ensure that their rights and welfare are guaranteed. These are Agreements on General Labor Cooperation and Welfare with eight countries; Agreements on Employment, Hiring and Recruitment with eight countries; and Agreements on Recognition of Seafarers' Certificates with 42 countries.
The Philippines hosted in 2008 the Global Forum on Migration and Development, which raised international awareness on the protection of the rights of migrant workers as an imperative to global development.
Another key milestone of the Arroyo administration is the passage of the Citizenship Retention and Reacquisition Act of 2003 allowing natural-born citizens who have acquired foreign citizenship to reacquire Filipino citizenship.
In 2003, overseas Filipinos were also able to exercise their right to vote for the first time with the passage of the Overseas Absentee Voting Act implemented in partnership with DFA and the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
Under President Arroyo's watch, the DFA mobilized support for the victims of typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng, resulting in $144.255 million in total foreign financial donations.
After the signing and ratifying 20 years ago of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Philippines enacted a law establishing the Philippine baselines, determining the country's maritime borders and bringing the country closer towards complying with the Constitutional mandate of upholding sovereignty and protecting its territorial integrity.
With this law, the Philippines can start negotiations on boundary delimitation with neighboring countries.
In 2002, the country signed the Declaration of the Conduct in the South China Sea, stabilizing its relations with important neighbors like China.
The Philippines was deemed eligible to avail of $400 million for poverty alleviation and good governance under the US Millennium Challenge Corp., having been selected in 2008 and re-selected twice in 2009 and 2010.
Under President Arroyo, the presidency of Ambassador Libran Cabactulan at the recently concluded 2010 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference showcased the country's leadership and important contribution to ensuring a nuclear-free world.
Under the Philippines' chairmanship in 2006-2007 of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, ASEAN became a rules-based organization as the ASEAN Charter came into force. The ASEAN intergovernmental committee on human rights was established along with the ASEAN Socio Cultural Community, the third pillar in the creation of the ASEAN community.
The Philippines was also a key player in protecting the most important marine ecosystem through the Coral Triangle Initiative. As a result, the President received last March the Teddy Roosevelt International Conservation Award from the International Conservation Caucus Foundation in Washington.
Among the major investments generated by DFA during the Arroyo administration were: $1 billion from Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction in Subic and $2.5 billion in Mindanao ; $3 billion from Hyundai Engineering Co. Ltd. transmission projects; $1 billion Samsung Electronics microchip manufacturing facility; $1 billion for a semiconductor test and assembly plant by Texas Instruments; $2 billion by Shimao Group in Fort Bonifacio and Eastern Samar; $1.6 billion steel plant of India's Arcelor Mittal; $1 billion increase in investments by Coca Cola; $1.02 billion Global Gateway Logistics City by Kuwait Gulf and Link Investments Co.; and $1 billion investment by M. Castle in retirement home and high-end recreation center in Subic. The initial investment of $100 million Exxon-Mobil is expected to exceed $1 billion in the next five to 10 years, and $150 million Qatar Telecom QSC QTEL and San Miguel Corp. joint venture to be raised to $1 billion after one year.
The DFA, under President Arroyo, also assisted in accessing billions of dollars worth of official development assistance, which include funds from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Asian Development Bank (ADB), World Bank (WB) and China. (PIA) [top]