House leaders laud DFA for dedication, service to country

Martin Romualdez
Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez

HOUSE leaders led by Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez have commended the men and women of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) for their selfless and distinguished service to the country and their fellow Filipinos during the time of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In House Resolution (HR) No.1064 filed in time for the DFA’s 122nd anniversary celebration on July 23, Cayetano cited the risks and dangers that DFA’s workforce and officers have been braving everyday “in their relentless effort to take care of our people wherever they may be and keep our kababayans abroad from harm.”

Aside from Cayetano and Romualdez, other signatories of HR No. 1064 are Deputy Speakers Paolo Z. Duterte (Davao City, 2nd District), Luis Raymund “LRay” Villafuerte, Jr. (Camarines Sur, 2nd District), Neptali M. Gonzales II (Mandaluyong Lone District), Dan S. Fernandez (Laguna, 1st District), Loren B. Legarda (Antique, Lone District), Raneo E. Abu (Batangas, 2nd District), Representatives Maria Laarni L. Cayetano (Taguig City, 2nd District), Abraham N. Tolentino (Cavite, 8th District) Jose Antonio “Kuya” R. Sy-Alvarado (Bulacan, 1st District), Eric G. Yap (ACT-CIS Party-List), Ann K. Hofer (Zamboanga Sibugay, 2nd District), Divina Grace C. Yu (Zamboanga del Sur, 1st District), Samantha Louise Vargas Alfonso (Cagayan, 2nd District) and Minority Floor Leader Bienvenido M. Abante, Jr. (Manila, 6th District).

The resolution also coincides with the 156th birth anniversary of the country’s first Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Apolinario Mabini, the national hero revered as “the Sublime Paralytic” and “Brains of the Revolution” who was born on July 23, 1864.

Cayetano, who served as Foreign Affairs Secretary from May 2017 to October 2018, noted that the men and women of DFA are among the most professional and dedicated workforces in government.

The House of Representatives also congratulated the DFA for its “remarkable efforts to pursue the three pillars of our country’s foreign policy: promoting national security, enhancing economic diplomacy, and protecting the rights and welfare of Filipino overseas.”

The resolution seeks to recognize the countless services the unnamed men and women have done for overseas Filipinos in DFA’s embassies, consulates, satellite offices, regional offices, and government-run shelters.

“Though often unpublicized and unrecognized, their services have become acts of heroism in the service of the country, especially in the most perilous times,” the resolution states.

The House said it believes it is both appropriate and just for the Philippines to recognize the selfless dedication and bravery of the men and women of the DFA, especially in extending assistance to distressed Overseas Filipinos during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We also want to honor the members of the Foreign Service who, for more than a century, have given their lives in the loyal pursuit of their duties and responsibilities representing the interests of the Philippines and of its citizens,” the Speaker said.

The proponents of the resolution acknowledged the vital role of DFA in ensuring that the government reaches Overseas Filipinos, both documented and undocumented, and that they are given immediate and sufficient assistance.

Since February, a total of 90,497 Overseas Filipinos have already been repatriated since the government began its COVID-19 repatriation efforts. Another 50,577 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are expected to be repatriated by the end of July 2020.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) has estimated that about 345,000 OFWs have already been displaced, and it is projecting that a little more than one million OFWs could be displaced by December 2021.