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Usurpation of consular functions or mere ‘palabas’

/ 12:34 AM September 24, 2012

What has the Honorable Albert del Rosario, head of the foreign office, been doing? He recently personally evacuated overseas Filipino workers out of Syria (Inquirer, 9/5/12). There is something grossly wrong when the boss of the entire foreign service himself does the job of his men abroad.

I remember that since Desert Storm was launched against Saddam Hussein during the first Bush presidency, contingency or evacuation plans have been in place at diplomatic posts, especially in the Middle East. This means that if some trouble or crisis erupted in any part of the world, the embassy or consulate concerned would know what to do to bring its personnel and their families, OFWs and other Filipinos in the area to safety.

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While Manila should provide guidance, its high officials need not meddle physically in the evacuation processes. However, it is noted that Secretary Del Rosario has, since the beginning of his term, enthusiastically and actually put himself at the center of the consular activities, say in Libya during its civil war, in Japan with the nuclear disaster at Fukushima and now in the political turmoil in Syria. The good secretary should temper his energy. After all, we have already the ambassador, the alter ego of the president, at the post, with his alert staff.  All of them are presumed competent.

Del Rosario and his Manila team merely aggravate the situation. The ambassador and his staff would naturally focus some of their precious time and effort on the foreign secretary, their boss, and his team, instead of fully devoting themselves to the OFWs. The secretary then becomes part of the problem. In fact, Del Rosario candidly admitted that, while in Libya, he fell down flat on his face.

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The good secretary was appointed head of the entire foreign service. He has, on behalf of the President, to conduct foreign policy and coordinate diplomatic activities and crises. His main duties are in Manila. Going to Phnom Penh, and other capitals, and ultimately Hamburg, the seat of the Unclos (UN Convention on the Law of the Sea) tribunal to convince the world that the South China Sea is not all Chinese or is actually the West Philippine Sea, is part of his task.

Personally escorting OFWs out of Tripoli, Damascus and other world “hot spots” is not.

Otherwise, his good intentions might be misconstrued as plain usurpation of the ministerial functions of his consular men abroad, if not a mere show or “palabas.”

 

 

 —NELSON D. LAVIÑA,

retired ambassador,

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TAGS: Albert del Rosario, DFA, Foreign affairs, Government, Syria
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