THE Philippine Ambassadors’ Foundation Inc. (PAFI) will hold its Annual General Meeting to review its activities in 2014 and to elect its Board of Governors for 2015-2017. PAFI members include Philippine Ambassadors and Foreign Service Officers with the rank of Chief of Mission. The AGM will be held at the DFA Summit Lounge on Tuesday, 17 March 2015 at 3:00 PM.
In the tradition of the DFA as the country’s first line of defense, PAFI’s Board of Governors and its members examined in 2014 the threats to our external and internal security, as well as the challenges posed by climate change.
PAFI co-sponsored a forum on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) with the Philippine Council on Foreign Relations. The recommendations of the forum were endorsed by PAFI to President Benigno S. Aquino 3rd at the time that the Palace was examining the constitutionality of the draft BBL submitted by the peace panels. PAFI stressed that, while PAFI supported the peace process, the BBL to be passed by Congress, after consulting all the stakeholders, should be consistent with the Philippine Constitution, and that it should build on the strength of the ARMM (Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao) Expanded Organic Law of 2001 (Republic Act 9054). PAFI expressed the caution that local autonomy involves merely devolution of power and does not allow partition of Philippine territory.
PAFI further recommended to the President that “the Sabah Claim is linked to the issue of the Bangsamoro. Sabah should be pursued in the context of Philippine sovereignty and territorial integrity and in accordance with the UN Charter.”
Recently, PAFI issued its 7 Points on the Mindanao Peace Process, stressing that the Philippines should regain ownership and leadership of the Mindanao peace process.
On the related issue of the rights of the Lumads and other original indigenous people of Mindanao, PAFI members participated in the forum held at the University of Asia and the Pacific to celebrate International Day of the World’s Indigenous People (IP). The theme of the forum was “Empowering our Tribal Communities and Indigenous People in the Philippines” which supported the IPs rights to their cultural identity. PAFI recognizes the IP as stakeholders in the Mindanao peace process.
With respect to the threats posed by China’s nine-dashed-line, China’s occupation of Mischief Reef and other submerged areas at high tide within the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone, and China’s other violations of the maritime rights of the Philippines under the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea, PAFI supported the DFA’s position to submit these issues to arbitration by the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) as a peaceful mode of settling these issues.
PAFI likewise expressed support for the Expanded Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the Philippines and the United States because EDCA safeguards the urgent security needs of the Philippines in all the areas covered by the Mutual Defense Agreement. These would include the scenario of an armed attack by a foreign country on the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Therefore, PAFI sees EDCA as helping to preserve peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.
As for the challenges of climate change, the Ambassadors’ Corner presented the outline of a coherent and sustainable fisheries and ocean governance program on an archipelago-wide scale. Its implementation on a sustained and sustainable basis is important, not only because the Philippines is an archipelago with vast rich maritime resources for our people, but also because the Philippines is located in an area of the world exposed to natural disasters like typhoons, earthquakes and tsunamis. This program would be able to contribute significantly towards social-economic resiliency for the country as well as provide for food security. The Ambassadors’ Corner also suggested a strategy for disaster risk reduction and prevention program in endangered towns and villages and disseminated climate change adaptation practices of some Asia and Pacific countries.
Finally, PAFI wishes to highlight its successful effort to preserve the historical cultural monument that is the Fujimi landmark of the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo. PAFI has issued a Resolution to protect, from commercial exploitation, other Philippine historical and cultural monuments abroad, in coordination with the DFA.
PAFI’s Board of Governors is at present composed of the following: Lauro L. Baja, Jr., Chairman; Jose M. Zaldarriaga, President; Jose V. Romero, Jr., First Vice President; Rosalinda V. Tirona, Second Vice-President; Amado S. Tolentino, Auditor; Willy S. Gaa, Legal Counsel; Clemencio F. Montesa, Public Relations Officer; Estrella A. Berenguel; Jaime J. Yambao; Jose Macario Laurel IV, Immediate Past President; Jaime S. Bautista, Secretary General and Treasurer.