Lawmaker wants to amend Philippine Foreign Service law

A MEASURE seeking to ensure professionalism and strengthen the career foreign service corps has been filed at the House of Representatives in response to the challenges in the field of international relations.

Under House Bill 6430 filed by Rep. Rodolfo Biazon (Lone District, Muntinlupa City), no person shall be eligible for appointment to a permanent item in the career service in whatever rank or class if they are not a natural-born citizen and permanent resident of the Philippines at the time of appointment and the entire duration of his tenure in the Department.

Biazon said international relations have become more intricate and complex in view of the changing and evolving political, social, economic, and security environments.

“A country’s foreign policies should be properly crafted and diplomatically projected in such a manner that its sovereignty and territorial integrity are ensured and protected before the community of nations,” Biazon said.

The bill seeks to amend Republic Act 7157, otherwise known as the Philippine Foreign Service Act of 1991, which created Career Foreign Service Corps, in order to ensure that the crafting of foreign service policies and its diplomatic projection are handled by a select group of cognizant, professional and technically proficient ambassadors and
chiefs of missions who represent the country abroad.

However, Biazon said the practice by the Presidents of appointing non-career individuals as ambassadors has apparently diluted the provision.

Biazon cited records during the three previous administrations covering 1992-2010, which showed there were 102 career ambassadors as against 88 non-career ambassadors.

“This practice could result in the appointment of individuals with professional limitations because of lack of academic preparation, training and experience attendant to the position to which they have been appointed,” Biazon said.

“It could also expose the Philippines to diplomatic embarrassments with its consequent adverse effects to our standing before the community of nations,” Biazon added.

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