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10 PH embassies, consulates to be closed; Palau appeals

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At least 10 Philippine embassies and consulates will be closed down this year because of budgetary constraints, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

However, the DFA has not yet disclosed the list of the foreign diplomatic posts to be shuttered, saying it has yet to inform all the host governments.

“We have not disclosed the list yet. We’re now in the process of informing the governments where the affected embassies and consulates are,” said DFA spokesperson Raul Hernandez.

“What you have been hearing are unofficial reports,” he said.

The Palau President Johnson Toribiong has reportedly asked President Benigno Aquino III to reconsider the government’s decision to shut down the Philippine Embassy in his country.

Rationalization program

Hernandez said the Philippines currently has 94 embassies and consulates worldwide.

He said the closing down of posts is part of the rationalization program of DFA resources.

Diplomats affected by the closure will be reassigned to other posts.

“The DFA would like to rationalize and effectively use its limited sources to be of better service to Filipinos overseas and to the country as a whole,” Hernandez explained.

He said the DFA evaluated the posts based on the three pillars of Philippine foreign policy: enhancing national security, promoting economic diplomacy, protecting and promotion of the rights and welfare of Filipinos overseas.

“Apart from being a cost-saving measure, other factors considered for closing down the foreign diplomatic posts were overall bilateral relationships with the host countries, the amount of trade, investments, the number of Filipinos that have to be served out of those posts, among others,” he said.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto del Rosario, during a hearing of the Senate finance committee in October last year, said the recommendation to close the posts had been submitted to President Aquino for approval.

If the President would approve the recommendation, Del Rosario said the government could still serve its affected people through Philippine representatives from neighboring countries.

“In the manner we’re doing so now. We can serve those posts from neighboring countries where we have embassies,” he said.

Palau ‘disheartened’

In a January 23 letter to Mr. Aquino, a copy of which was obtained by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the Palau President said his country was “extremely disheartened” to learn that the Philippines was intending to close its embassy in Palau.

“On behalf of the government of the Republic of Palau I write to implore and formally request that your government reconsider its decision and plans in this regard and not close the Philippine Embassy in Palau,” said Toribiong.

Toribiong said the most compelling reason for maintaining the embassy in Palau is the presence there of some 5,000 Filipinos.

“These overseas workers from the Philippines comprise more than 20 percent of Palau’s population, and about 60 percent of all foreign workers in Palau, or around 25 percent of the country’s total work force,” he said.

Toribiong said Palau’s economy would also suffer from the embassy’s closure as “Filipinos are employed in practically all job categories, from professionals to production and service workers.”

“The Filipino overseas workers are a vital component of Palau’s economy,” he said.

Shutting down the embassy in Palau will also affect Filipinos in neighboring countries, such as those working in Micronesia and Marshall Islands because they transact with the embassy in Palau, Toribiong said.   With Allan Nawal, Inquirer Mindanao


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Tags: DFA , Diplomacy , Foreign affairs , Palau , Philippines

  • Anonymous

    So why don’t we keep the embassy in Palau then..and maybe consider other embassies that has no economic justification for their existence! What about closing the Philippine Embassy to the Vatican? Let Ambassador Tuason and a skeleton crew of the Philippine mission to the Vatican share a space with the Philippine Embassy to Italy in their office at Via delle Medaglie d’ Oro instead of having a separate office at Via Paolo VI. Ireland did it..so why can we not do it?

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_TSX56EQOQIJQWG42MHQLSZOPXI Flugie

      The Philippines won’t close the Philippine Embassy to Vatican because of
      two things (among perhaps many reasons): 1.) We’re a predominantly
      Catholic country and any Philippine government knows that – even if the
      Vatican is small – it’s clout on world affairs is big; 2.) If the
      government closes the Philippine Embassy at the Vatican, it’ll get the
      ire of the CBCP and the hundreds of lay groups that support it.

      • Anonymous

        I am not saying to completely sever the Phil-Vatican relationship…I am suggesting to consolidate the 2 embassies’ operation into one place! How big an embassy the Vatican needs that cannot be meet by the embassy office for Italy in Rome? If the CBCP protests and throws a fit, let them pay for the embassy’s operation since they don’t pay taxes anyway!!!! By the way Ireland is also a catholic country, albeit a catholic country in the 21st century.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_TSX56EQOQIJQWG42MHQLSZOPXI Flugie

        Like I said, the government won’t do it for the simple reason that they need the Vatican clout. I understand what you mean and I’m for it BTW but the deal is that the Philippine government sees the Vatican post – even if small – as one of the most important embassies/consulates the country has because 1.) The country is predominantly Catholic and 2.) The CBCP has a huge clout in government affairs and public life, 3.) The nation’s eternal hope for a Pinoy pope, 4.) It’s clout on the Filipino people who are predominantly Catholic, 5.) It’s clout over world affairs, 6.) The huge political weight that the Vatican carries and 7.) The amount of favor that the Philippines gets from the Vatican.

        The Vatican, no matter how small it is, is one of the juiciest posts a Pinoy Ambassador would ever hope for – Catholic or non-Catholic. The government is thinking more of where it will benefit more holistically and they think that less significant embassies (for the lack of a better term) would be less beneficial compared to the Vatican. Also, it boils down to votes. How many Catholic voters do we have? If they close the Philippine Embassy at the Vatican and somehow it creates a furor among Catholic voters, how much percentage of the votes with the incumbent government lose in the next election? How much backlash will the government have to contend with? If they close a small embassy, like the one in Palau, how many Pinoy’s here will care? A very small percentage. If they close the Vatican embassy, even non-Catholic citizens will react. The Vatican is considered one of the strongest moral forces in the world and, as you may know, there’s a huge population of moralists in the country.

        The Vatican is the smallest state in the world yet all of the world powers maintain a presence there because they know how influential the Pope is. These nation understand the repercussions if they close their Vatican embassies. If those nations dare not close a Vatican embassy, how much more a bit player in world affairs such as the Philippines?

        As for the Irish, they’re a different breed (I’ve a number of Irish friends) so it’s like comparing apples to oranges i.e. both are fruit full of vitamins but different none the less.

      • Anonymous

        Are you sure you’re for the closure of the Phil. Embassy to the Vatican? Coz the way you give too many excuses says otherwise! So the closure of the embassy in Palau is OK to you ,since no one will care..when so many lives and jobs would be affected than the imagined clout you give to the Vatican and the CBCP? Where’s morality and ethics there? I thought the church is big on that?  Hmmm…as far as I know everytime CBCP and its minions give a proclamation of some sort, they’re met with so many negative  responses! They are not the strong moral force anymore that they like to project. People know that and are not afraid of going against its stands and dogmas anylonger. By the way..there’s no such thing as a catholic voting block..unlike let’s say INK. So if people see the reason why embassies are being closed not because the government hates the church but coz of economic reasons …these folks will understand. You know people nowadays are not as naive as in the 1900s. We need leaders that really stands for the welfare of many…just like Prime Minister Enda Kenny and not cater to and be dictated by some religious groups. We don’t derive economic benefit by separately maintaining an embassy in the Vatican..it can be served by the embassy in Rome. I think the only difference between Irish and Filipino catholics is that Irish catholics have long moved on …and had matured in their spiritual odessy. They don’t look up for moral guidance to Rome anymore..since they see the latter as morally bankrupt in and of itself! We Filipinos are still awestruck and have not completely muster the guts to question the church’s every actions and dogmas.Hopefully we will eventually get there!!!

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_TSX56EQOQIJQWG42MHQLSZOPXI Flugie

        Merging the Phil. Embassy at the Vatican with the Phil. Embassy in Italy? I’m for it. It’s logical as both are in Rome anyway and it will save the Philippines a lot of money. But the reality is, that won’t happen due to politics and “global diplomacy”, if you will. Besides,the Vatican has an edict/decree/proclamation that any embassy of a nation to Italy will not be considered as an embassy to the Holy See.

        Excuses? Nah. Those are my points to this interesting discussion that we’re having – so are yours i.e. points and not excuses why should the Vatican should be closed. Now, my discussion points will become excuses if I’m the Philippine Government and there’s a clamor to merge the two embassies but I won’t. Since I’m not the government, then they are points/opinions. Now, like with all opinions in a discussion, all that we share here can be considered right and valid up until such a time a gracious soul chimes in – who is an expert and undisputed authority on the matter – and points out who is right and who is wrong.

        Cheers.

      • Anonymous

        :-) No problem!!! I agree it’s just our opinion..so let’s see and wait for that list of doomed embassies that’s yet to be released! Cheers!

      • Julio III Amador

        Vatican City State has a protocol which forbids recognition of Embassies already accredited to Italy as Embassies to the Vatican. As a commenter has said, like it or not, the Vatican is a good listening post for diplomatic activities. Between Palau and the Vatican, policymakers will find that the latter outweighs the former.

      • Anonymous

        Listening post for what? Does Vatican also run an intelligence agency? Is that what you mean by listening post..lol? I think an intelligence agency is beyond the spiritual mission of the church. Well too bad if they don’t recognize embassies accredited to Italy….you know not every country on this earth has excess money to their disposal. These are hard economic times…economically and ethically..i think Vatican embassy should go first instead of the one in Palau where alot of people’s livelihood depends on it!

        “Apart from being a cost-saving measure, other factors considered for closing down the foreign diplomatic posts were overall bilateral relationships with the host countries, the amount of trade, investments, the number of Filipinos that have to be served out of those posts, among others”. Among these reasons for an embassy closure…none apply to the Phil-Vatican relations!!! So there’s really no reason for keeping it.

        Is Ireland relegated to the backwaters of civilization and international affairs because they closed the Irish Embassy to the Vatican? Far from it!!! However it shows the whole world that the Irish State has balls and won’t allow capricious dictates from a foreign state masquerading as a religious institution!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_TV7UX6Z5F4W3QJNODUMA6UTB2U Pinoydin

    Cost cutting measures that would lead us no where…. Sana yung cost cutting na yan makapag generate man lang ng employment sa Pilipinas, hindi pupunta sa bulsa ng mga Politikong nakatayo ngayon sa gobyerno.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_EXFI4EUGM23PQ4FMQKLVH36OXI Jose

    “These overseas workers from the Philippines comprise more than 20 percent of Palau’s population”

    Wow.  Very surprised by that.

    And regarding the Vatican embassy, I’m actually a bit surprised that we have separate embassies for Italy and the Vatican, as I’d assume both are located in Rome.  The savings would be sizable, and communication wouldn’t be affected much.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PPUPSBWP2WEBCCPGHRY54UCTOM Anne Torre

    Most embassies and consulates are over staffed. Rude and uneducated are most of them. They treat Pilipinos living abroad like their servants or slaves. Lack of knowledge in management system worsen these offices. Using computers and internet would definitely facilitate transactions instead of requiring clients to go personally to the embassies. Coordination with the foreign government makes things efficient but these nincompoops haven’t thought about this. They thought that working abroad is like working in the Philippines. Absences is one strong reason for a worker to be fired out.

    And these embassies should be opern on Saturdays and Sundays because these are the days that Pilipino workers have time to visit the office. A rotation of their lazy staff can make a weeklong service. A management evaluation by SGV or any well meaning entity is a necessity.

    Sometimes, going to the embassy can make think to be a criminal!

  • http://joboni96.myopenid.com/ joboni96

    we should not be doing this
    to bolster our claim on palau
    the former nueva filipinas

    administered from manila
    before u.s. imperialism, again

  • Anonymous

    Geopolitical considerations dictate that we need the Philippine embassy in Palau, even if it is a small republic.  It is much nearer than Guam, and Palau is host to many Filipino entrepeneurs and workers alike. . 

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/XBLYID34EF3THUFA7NRRB47QUA Fernando

    dapat talagang maalis ang mga embassy sa ibang bansa, wala namang tulong sa mga kababayan nating pilipino ang mga hudas na yan..akala mo kung sino kung makaporma pag nasa office ng embassy. kung makatrato sa mga kababayan nating pilipino akala mo sila ang hari..buti pa si noynoy ang sinasabi eh amo niya ang mga taong bayan itong mga walang kwentang staff ng embassy eh dapat mong pakisamahan at lagyan para lamang ikaw eh pagsilbihan…ang lalaki ng sahod puro tamad naman.lagi mong hahanapin kung asan sila na at mga concern sila ha..minsan 3 beses akong pinabalikbalik sa loob ng isang linggo dahil 95 days na ang passport ko eh di pa nababalik sa akin,yun pala andun lang sa kanila at ang sabi di pa nadating 2 linggo na palang nasa kanila at ang gusto magbayad na lang ako ng extension ng passport extra income nga naman nila yun dahil di naman nila ito isasama sa kanilang ireremit sa pinas dahil me bagong passport na.talagang hudas na mga tao

  • Anonymous

    If these country wont complain, then close it but palau is complaining and i think we should hear them and negotiate with them on how 5000 filipinos can be multiplied to 50,000 or open visa policy for the filipino so it would be nice to spend vacation there

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ZO2FOBJ2P77CDRXLAQZJ6ZRCB4 Cynthia

    Palau is an independent country among the tiny Pacific islands east of our country.  Ang history po nila ay kahawig ng sa atin, under Spain in the 1500-1800’s and so on ngunit wala naman po tayong karapatang magclaim sa bansang iyan kahit noong mga panahong iyon at hindi naman po natin ninais (in response to a mention somewhere below that the Philippines “should not be doing this bolster claim…”.  There was a time that they were governed out of the Philippines by the Spaniards at the time of the Spanish colonization.  Although it is a very small country and near the Philippines (about 1600km away) since we have many Filipino nationals there (20% daw of the population, kasi kaunti lang sila in proportion) it would be good to continue having an embassy there.  If our government wants to close that then they must have a very valid economic reason for doing so and if they do, they should be able to present a good representation or an equally efficient consular service alternative outside Palau.



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