No political appointees in consulates, please – Drilon
Senate President Pro Tempore Franklin Drilon has asked President Duterte not to deploy political appointees as heads of Philippine consulates because this would discourage career diplomats eyeing ambassadorial posts after spending decades in the foreign service.
Drilon conveyed this “message” to Mr. Duterte during Senate discussions on Wednesday on the proposed P16.59 billion budget of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) next year amid talk that the President will place political appointees in some of the country’s 21 consulates around the world.
“Equity and better judgment should tell the head of the DFA to recommend to the appointing authority to protect the career of our career officers,” Drilon said.
He urged the President to “consider this plea of career people.” It takes about 20 years before a foreign service officer is appointed as an ambassador, he said.
“So I guess what I want to put on record is a message to the DFA secretary and the President to respect the career service in the DFA because it’s discouraging,” he said. “I have so many friends there who are extremely qualified, but we waste talent and raise frustrations because apparently of disregard of the career service in the DFA.”
Drilon acknowledged that the President had the prerogative to make political appointments to foreign posts but said the “spirit” behind the Foreign Service Act is to encourage professionalism.
“This is the sentiment of the Senate in regards to this situation,” he added.
Defending the proposed DFA budget, Sen. Bam Aquino agreed there should be no political appointees in the 21 consulates as a matter policy. He said, however, talk of political appointments to these posts was “all conjecture at this point.”
Aquino said Republic Act no. 7517, or the Foreign Service Act, provides for a 51-49 ratio of ambassadorial appointments in favor of career diplomats.
“The President can appoint 30 to 31 political ambassadors and the rest should be career ambassadors,” he said.
At present, the government is maintaining 64 embassies and 21 consulates. Aquino said 106 career ambassadors were eligible to head these diplomatic posts.
Aquino said there have been nine political appointments since Mr. Duterte took office in July compared to the 10 political appointees who served during the term of President Benigno Aquino III, his cousin.
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