PGMA pushed for people-centered policy in RP foreign relations

June 1, 2010 8:35 pm 

By Gloria Jane Baylon

MANILA, June 1 — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo pushed for a people-centered foreign policy as the architect of Manila’s foreign relations and “her performance has been outstanding … much has been accomplished,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto G. Romulo said today.

At a seminar celebrating the 112th “Department of Foreign Affairs Day” Tuesday, Romulo rolled off one by one the achievements of the DFA in the nine years of Macapagal-Arroyo’s leadership, citing, among others, her frequent trips to the Middle East to appeal for the lives of Filipinos sentenced to death in the Islamic region or to appeal for their humanitarian prison terms and working conditions.

Romulo said President Arroyo is a major player in the international field.

“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 noted.

“In the field of foreign relations of which the President is the architect, her performance has been outstanding. Under her leadership, much has been accomplished,” Romulo told the seminar participants who included recipients of presidential awards and other citations for supporting the government’s foreign affairs agenda.

Among them were Oscar Sanez, chief executive officer of the Business Process Outsourcing Association of the Philippines; Doris Magsaysay-Ho, the Philippine Representative to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Council; and overseas Filipino worker Lydio Manalo Merano.

The President conferred the “Order of Lakandula,” Rank of Grand Cross (Bayani) on DFA Undersecretary for Special and Ocean Concerns (OUSOC) and SNAMMM-National Organizing Committee (NOC) Secretary General Rafael E. Seguis, and the “Order of the Golden Heart” on Archbishop Paciano B. Aniceto.

The Philippines News Agency’s Managing Director Vittorio V. Vitug was also cited for his help in directing SNAMMM’s media operations with DFA Assistant Secretary Eduardo Malaya, who was also cited.

“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.

”She also made the veterans bill possible and secured the benefits due them. President Arroyo also made sure that the global Filipino gets the best in consular services and are allowed to exercise their right to suffrage, thus the ePassport, the new consular building and the Overseas Absentee Voting Law,” he said.

Romulo also highlighted the President’s efforts in national security, saying that “she made sure that foreign policies are independent and respect Philippine sovereignty and territory through the Baselines Law.”

The President also made possible 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 SNAMMM last March, the Secretary noted.

As well, PGMA 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 under the auspices of the United Nations in New York.

“The President’s high level visits reaped many benefits to the Filipino people. Through her 10 years of economic diplomacy, the country was able to attract a number of significant investments and official development assistance, particularly the boom of the business process outsourcing sector,” according to Romulo.

”With the President’s wise economic initiatives, Philippine export remained robust despite world-wide recessions. She also saw to the negotiation and implementation of agreements to liberalize and increase trade at bilateral, regional and multilateral levels,” he added.

”As her people in the foreign service, we have many things to thank her for. Compared to previous administrations, President Arroyo has appointed more career ambassadors and consul generals at 72.83 percent,” he mentioned.

”We thank her for signing Executive Order No. 461 in 2005, which upgraded the allowances of foreign service personnel. With better standard of living, they can now honorably represent the country abroad. Finally, it is only during the President’s term that we were allowed to setup a Provident Fund, thus ensuring the financial security of DFA employees upon retirement,” he added.

Today, DFA launched three new books on its major programs and conferred presidential awards and citations to deserving personnel and other government employees.

Copies of the coffee table books were presented to the President. These were “Protecting Overseas Filipinos and Promoting Their Welfare: The Highest Priority,” “Peace through Interfaith Dialogue: Philippine Diplomacy and the Promotion of Tolerance and Mutual Respect,” and “Pasaporte: A Journey of a Hundred Years.” (PNA)

DCT/GJB

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