Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Unrest at the Department of Foreign Affairs

Senate president Juan Ponce-Enrile is spot on---all Cabinet rank secretaries and their staff should vacate their posts right this moment. As soon as Aquino is proclaimed president by late noon today, all Cabinet secretaries will now cease from functioning legally as heads of the government agencies. They have no legal authority to sign any document, because the effectivity of their appointments will end as soon as a new president is sworn in.

Now, how about political ambassadors, appointed by Mrs. Arroyo? What would become of them?

According to the career officials of the DFA (I was once a member of the DFA, but did not continue), their appointments should also end since they are co-terminus with Mrs. Arroyo. These are:

(Romulo issued Assignment Order No. 207-10 dated April 28, 2010 for the recall to the Home Office) of Ma. Consuelo Puyat-Reyes (Santiago); Acmad Omar (Muscat); Antonio Villamor (Riyadh); Generoso Senga (Tehran); Francisco Ortigas III (Mexico); Jose Brillantes (Ottawa); Ernesto De Leon (Canberra); Orlando Mercado (ASEAN-Jakarta); Vidal Querol (Jakarta); Ramoncito Marino (Koror); Francisco Benedicto (Beijing); Noe Wong (Phnom Penh); Shirley Ho-Vicario (Port Moresby); Domingo Siazon, Jr. (Tokyo); Bienvenido Tejano (Wellington); Rigoberto Tiglao (Athens); Delia Albert (Berlin); Alejandro del Rosario (Warsaw); Manuel Antonio Teehankee (Geneva WTO); Antonio Manuel Lagdameo Jr. (London); Regina Irene Sarmiento (Prague); Mercedes Tuason (Vatican); Alexander Yano (Brunei); Cardozo Luna (The Hague); and Ana Ines De Sequera-Ugarte (Madrid).

The non-career ambassadors, Romulo and undersecretaries of the DFA who are political appointees and co-terminus with the President will all cease to hold office by June 30.

However, there's a catch.

Controversial Justice secretary Alberto Agra again was put in the spotlight for signing a very controversial opinion dated April 23, 2010 which practically violated the Constitution. Agra said that these political appointees may continue to hold office even after June 30.

This legal opinion violates the foreign service code and even the very spirit of the Charter. Political appointees are co-terminus with the appointing authority and their terms end with Arroyo.

Aquino should look closely at the problem brewing inside the Foreign Service. It is high time that the new government respects the officer corps there. The Foreign Service Officers are the highest and most professional of all the members of the government bureaucracy. It is high time for the new government to end that practice of appointing non-career officials to sensitive ambassadorial posts. The Arroyo administration really tainted this respected institution by considering ambassadorial posts as dumping ground for erring officials or as reward to ass-lickers. Time for change.