The accusations hurled by Joe Valencia against Ambassador Rigoberto Tiglao are completely untrue. Tiglao’s track record as Philippine ambassador to Greece and Cyprus is impeccable and distinguished.
His lifestyle in Athens was not at all luxurious, as Valencia alleged. He was very much in touch with the OFWs here, holding meetings with their organizations twice a month to find out their problems and how the embassy could help them. He lived in an area where most ambassadors reside and where his predecessors also lived.
Because he developed friendship and contacts with the Greek “elite,” which Valencia seems to detest, he was able to convince the Greek government to set up an embassy in Manila. This corrected an anomaly: the Philippines had set up its embassy in Athens way back in 1989, but Greece had none here, and Tiglao worked on it. Because of this, OFWs to Greece now save tens of thousands of pesos (and much aggravation) as they can now get their visas in the Greek Embassy in Makati. Before, they had to fly to Jakarta to get their visas since Greece had its embassy there covering the Philippines.
Because of his contacts, Tiglao was also able to accelerate negotiations for OFWs’ social security benefits under the Greek government to be transferred to our Social Security System upon their return home. I am sure Tiglao would have been able to complete this mission had he not returned to the Philippines in 2010.
With the assistance of his new Greek friends, Tiglao had Philippine Independence Day celebrations in prestigious hotels in Athens, raising our country’s prestige and making each and every Filipino in Athens proud of their country.
Tiglao worked hard to help Kaphilca, the school for OFWs’ children in Athens, which was on the verge of collapsing when he arrived because of lack of support from his predecessor. I am proud to have worked with him in running the school and making it the very successful institution that it is now, with its enrolment growing from 42 when he arrived to 220 students when he left. Tiglao and I are proud to have worked together to have both the Philippine and Greek authorities formally recognize the school and its academic credits.
Tiglao cultivated friendship with shipowners whom he reminded to take care of Filipino crewmen and recruit more of them. Through his efforts, a shipowner decided to have one of his huge oil tankers built in Subic in 2007.
Tiglao was able to set up new honorary Philippine consulates to help OFWs in Patras in the Peloponese and in Iraklion in Crete. This was a feat as the last one in Rhodes Island was set up in the 1990s.
I cannot understand why they insist that Tiglao was “ousted” from Greece. The tour of duties of all political ambassadors appointed by the past president automatically ended with the election of the new president—and Tiglao gladly went home, telling me that he was excited to again be with the Inquirer.—MARCOS R. FOJAS, MD, FPOS, [email protected]