Former Malacañang spokesman Ernesto Abella is back in the loop after President Rodrigo Duterte appointed him as an undersecretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
Abella’s appointment papers were released on Wednesday, November 23, but were dated October 27.
He was fired as Palace spokesman in the last week of October supposedly because President Duterte was not satisfied with how he defended the President amid an 18-point decline in net satisfaction rating based on a Social Weather Stations survey, as well as the President’s call to expel envoys of the 28-member European Union that is critical of the administration’s war on drugs.
Duterte immediately replaced Abella with former human rights lawyer and Kabayan party-list Rep. Harry Roque.
Roque’s appointment was announced October 27, the same day that Abella was later learned to have been appointed to a DFA post.
Abella’s appointment papers did not specify the specific DFA unit he will be heading as an undersecretary.
There are five undersecretaries serving in the DFA: Linglingay Lacanlale (Administration); Manuel Antonio Teehankee (International Economic Relations); Sarah Lou Arriola (Migrant Workers Affairs); Enrique Manalo (Policy) and Jose Luis Montales (Civilian Security and Consular Concerns).
The Foreign Affairs secretary is former Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano.
Some senators viewed the new appointment of Abella as a good move, noting that his respectable demeanor could really help the department.
Senators Francis Escudero and Sherwin Gatchalian said the former spokesman could help strengthen President Duterte’s independent foreign policy.
“I am in full agreement… he will do exceptionally well as DFA spokesperson given his calm and respectable demeanor,” Escudero said in a text message.
Gatchalian said such demeanor, plus strong diplomatic instincts, would make Abella an asset to the DFA as it works to strengthen the independent foreign policy of the Duterte administration.