Three DFA undersecretaries receive political appointments from Aquino III

July 8, 2010 11:07 pm 

By Gloria Jane Baylon

MANILA, July 8 —Amid dissent of his alleged irregular extension of the appointments of a score of political ambassadors, Foreign Secretary Alberto G. Romulo on Thursday swore to their respective posts three newly-reappointed undersecretaries of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

According to the DFA, Erlinda F. Basilio, Rafael E. Seguis and Esteban B. Conejos Jr. received their appointments from President Benigno Aquino III, and Romulo simply administered their oath of office as in-charge of policy, administration and migrant workers respectively.

Basilio and Seguis are retired DFA career officers but remained with the DFA as political appointees in the latter part of the Arroyo presidency. At the time, Basilio was in-charge of policy while Seguis was given the title of Undersecretary for Special Concerns and Maritime-Ocean Affairs, simultaneously chairing the government panel on peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Conejos, previously with the Department of National Defense, was in-charge of migrant workers ever since he entered DFA, said to be the premier government agency.

“The appointment of these undersecretaries shows the full confidence of President Aquino in our work. I trust that these undersecretaries carry on the best tradition and practices of the Department, and with team spirit and hard work, we will succeed,” Romulo said as the appointments were announced.

Basilio said: “With the objective of promoting national interest, including promoting and protecting the welfare of our overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), and with the help of DFA’s geographic offices, we will pursue the policy directions set by President Aquino.”

In an earlier meeting with the press, Romulo said that the welfare of OFWs will continue to be a centerpiece of Philippine foreign policy. “As long as I am at the Office of Migrant Workers Affairs, the DFA will be at the forefront of providing protection and promoting the welfare of our OFWs,” Conejos said.

Seguis, noted that in his 46 years at the DFA, he has served several administrations: Diosdado Macapagal and his daughter Gloria Maacapagal-Arroyo, and Corazon Aquino and her son Benigno III.

”I have come full circle, and I will fulfill the expectations set out by the new administration and the public,” Seguis said.

Only previous Undersecretary for Administration Frank Ebdalin, did not get a re-appointment. A career diplomat who also stayed on at DFA after his retirement and a bar topnotcher, he had rejected an “Order of Sikatuna Award” for which he was recommended by Romulo.

Senior career officers of the DFA, mostly identified with the Union of Foreign Service Officers (UNIFORS) but declined to be identified, expressed worry at the set-up that they said ignores career officers.

They argued that competent career officers can easily handle the jobs assigned to political appointees Basilio, Seguis and Conejos.

Meanwhile, UNIFORS has undertaken steps to bring to the Truth Commission, headed by former ambassador to the United Nations, Hilario Davide Jr., the alleged irregularity, if not the illegality, of the appointments, citing provisions of the Foreign Service Act and related jurisprudence. (PNA)

RMA/GJB

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