MANILA, Philippines—President Benigno Aquino III has expanded the jurisdictions of the Philippine ambassador to the United States and four other envoys in a major revamp of key diplomatic posts overseas.
The President expanded the power and responsibilities of Jose Cuisia Jr., the ambassador to Washington who has concurrent jurisdiction over the US Virgin Islands, Grenada and Puerto Rico.
The revamp gives Cuisia three additional territorial jurisdictions—Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and Haiti.
Nine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) officials were also given overseas postings in the United Kingdom, France and other European, Latin American and Middle Eastern countries.
Mr. Aquino submitted their nominations as ambassadors extraordinary and plenipotentiary to the congressional Commission on Appointments on July 19.
Besides Cecilia Rebong, who was appointed as the new permanent representative of the Philippines to the United Nations in New York, Mr. Aquino appointed the following ambassadors: Maria Rowena M. Sanchez (Turkey with concurrent jurisdiction over Georgia and Azerbaijan); Victoriano Lecaros (Czech Republic); Theresa Lazaro (France with concurrent jurisdiction over Monaco); Jaime Victor Ledda (The Netherlands); Catalino Dilem Jr. (Mexico with concurrent jurisdiction over Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Venezuela and Cuba); Narciso Castañeda (Oman); Edsel Barba (Iraq); and Vicente Vivencio Bandillo (Bangladesh with concurrent jurisdiction over Sri Lanka and the Maldives).
Dilem will replace the current ambassador to Mexico, George Reyes, who will be retiring soon.
The incoming ambassador to Mexico will oversee a vast posting encompassing the current jurisdiction of the Philippine Embassy in Mexico (plus the Central American countries), with Venezuela, the Dominican Republic and Cuba as additional jurisdictions.
Mr. Aquino also expanded the jurisdictions of the following ambassadors: Eleanor Jaucian (Hungary with concurrent jurisdiction over Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia), with Romania, Bulgaria and Moldova as additional jurisdictions; Enrique Manalo (the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland), with Ireland as additional jurisdiction; Bayani Mercado (Norway with concurrent jurisdiction over Iceland and Denmark), with Finland and Sweden as additional jurisdictions; Patricia Ann Paez (Poland), with Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania as additional jurisdictions.
According to deputy spokesperson Abigail Valte, the reconfiguration of the foreign policy terrain would not affect the country’s bilateral relations with these regions nor overstretch the reach of an already lean consular workforce abroad attending to the needs of overseas Filipino workers.
“Out of the additional jurisdictions announced earlier, only the post in Dublin and Cuba were part of the 10 that were closed down by DFA since the current administration assumed office. The rest of the areas were simply realigned from other existing posts after an assessment done by the DFA,” Valte said.
Most of the new appointees, like Ledda and Lazaro, are currently occupying sub-Cabinet-level positions at the DFA head office in Manila.