Romulo turns over DFA reins to Del Rosario

OUTGOING Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto G. Romulo formally turned overthe leadership of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. del Rosario in a ceremony held  Wednesday  at the DFA.

Present during the ceremony as outgoing Secretary Romulo turned over the DFA flag to the Secretary Del Rosario were Foreign Affairs Undersecretaries Erlinda F. Basilio and Rafael E. Seguis, other DFA officials and DFA staff.

In his remarks, former Secretary Romulo said that the appointment of Secretary Del Rosario is a blessing and boon for the DFA.

“Secretary Del Rosario has an outstanding record in public service, as well as an unsullied reputation and great achievements,” he said.

Secretary Romulo also gave credit to the men and women of the DFA, noting that they have been superb in fulfilling their duties.

“The men and women of the DFA has always been in the frontlines, and have performed superbly crisis after crisis-from Iraq, Lebanon and Afghanistan before to Egypt and Libya now,” he stated.

The outgoing Foreign Affairs Secretary highlighted the DFA’s achievements under his watch, which included the shift to the machine-readable passport in 2007 and then to the electronic passport in 2009, the transfer of the DFA Office of Consular Affairs to the Aseana Business Park in Paranaque City, the adoption of the Philippine Baselines Law, and the granting of benefits to Filipino veterans by the United States Congress.

He also stated that the welfare of DFA officers and staff were looked after, as more positions in the foreign service officers’ corps and in the DFA plantilla were added, as well as more career ambassadors appointed.  It was also during that time that additional congressional budgetary support to the DFA was realized.

For his part, Secretary Del Rosario was grateful to Secretary Romulo, who earlier recommended him as Philippine Ambassador to the United States.

“Let me expressed by profound gratitude to Secretary Romulo for his leadership and his efforts in forwarding Philippine foreign policy to new heights,” he said.

The incoming Foreign Affairs Secretary stated that his foreign policy vision would not veer away from the three pillars of Philippine foreign policy:  national security, economic diplomacy and protection and promotion of the welfare of Filipino nationals.

“On national security, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) would be the bedrock of Philippine foreign policy.  On economic diplomacy, we will give priority to the directive of President Benigno S. Aquino III to address poverty alleviation thru pushing for measures that are affordable and sustainable to the DFA,” he said.

“On the promotion and protection of the welfare of Filipino nationals, we already have a good system compared to other developing countries, especially with the new Migrant Workers Act.  But we will continue looking at regulations and bilateral agreements to strengthen this protection of our nationals,” Secretary Del Rosario stated.

However, he added that the DFA will consider inputs and suggestions on foreign policy from other sectors, saying that “we will open up foreign policy by engaging Congress and other sectors involved in crafting the direction of our foreign policy.”

“I count on you as colleagues before, and I will count on you again as I take on this duties,” Secretary Del Rosario said.

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