DFA to shut down 12 foreign posts
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) plans to close down 12 Philippine embassies and consulates by the end of 2012.
This was announced on Tuesday by Foreign Secretary Alberto del Rosario during a hearing of the Senate finance committee chaired by Senator Franklin Drilon.
But Del Rosario did not identify the foreign diplomatic posts to be closed. The Philippines currently has 66 embassies, 23 consulates and four diplomatic missions worldwide.
Del Rosario said the recommendation to close the 12 posts has been submitted to President Benigno Aquino III for his approval.
“Six posts for closing early next year and another six for 2013. But I think we can accelerate it so that we can close, if the President approves, 12 posts at the end of 2012,” he told reporters after the hearing.
The 12 posts, Del Rosario said, were selected based on the amount of trade, investments , tourism, number of Filipinos that have to be served out of those posts and “whether those posts can be just as well served from the neighboring posts.”
If the President would approve the recommendation, De l Rosario said the Philippine 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 pointed out.
Del Rosario said they agency was doing the rationalization program so that they could effectively use their limited resources.
“I think we could use the allocations for those posts, put it to better use in terms of dedicating to posts that can perform better if they were able to get more resources,” he further said.
Diplomats affected by the closure will be reassigned to other posts.
Drilon said the government stands to save between P100 million to P150 million from the closure of the 12 diplomatic posts.
Drilon encouraged the DFA to do it sooner if only to help the government save more funds. The DFA is asking a budget of P10.98 billion for 2012.
The senator noted that the DFA had an apparently excessive number of foreign offices, thus, forcing it to spread its pool of envoys thinly.
“I have met this talented official who is stationed in Caracas (Venezuela). What is she doing there,” he asked.
The senator said he also knew of a Philippine consulate in Eastern Europe that is no bigger than a typical receiving room, an indication that it seldom receives any visitors. Cathy Yamsuan
Originally posted: 12:43 pm | Tuesday, October 4th, 2011
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