The Philippine Ambassadors Foundation Incorporated (PAFI) invites all Philippine Ambassadors/Chiefs of Mission to take part in its Annual General Meeting on Tuesday, 14 January 2013 at 2:00 p.m. at the Department of Foreign Affairs’ 14th Floor, to discuss its program of activities for 2014 and a vision of the Philippines’ place in the 21st century. The invitation includes all those in the active service.
Throughout 2013, PAFI looked into relevant issues relating to foreign affairs such as the conflict in Sabah last February where there was a standoff between the Malaysian and Sulu Sultanate forces resulting in actual use of force. On this sensitive issue, PAFI adopted a Resolution, advocating three principles: First, PAFI expressed its concern for the safety of Filipinos and loss of lives in Sabah. Second, PAFI called on the Malaysian Government and the Sultanate of Sulu to engage in peaceful dialogue and exercise maximum restraint instead of use of force. And third, PAFI urged the Philippine Government to resume talks, in accordance with the Manila Accord of 1963, to resolve the issue of the historic and legal rights to Sabah of the Republic of the Philippines and the Sultanate of Sulu.
Apart from press releases by Ambassador Clemencio T. Montesa, the PAFI position was also communicated by its Chairman, Ambassador Lauro L. Baja, Jr., at the roundtable discussion hosted by the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communications and the Now Planet TV Internet Program moderated by Ambassador Jose V. Romero, Jr., at interviews with UNTV and GNN, and at a UP forum sponsored by the Asian Center, UP Political Science Department, and the Institute of Islamic studies, where the former also expressed his own personal views.
In May, with the election of H. E. Hassan Rouhani as Iran’s new President, PAFI’s Chairman was approached by the Iranian Ambassador with the proposal that PAFI and Iran’s counterpart association establish ties in order to encourage bilateral trade and economic cooperation in view of the new political climate in Iran. Recently, the British have been active to upgrade their relations with Iran, for strategic and economic reasons. PAFI is open to establishing such ties with Iran’s association as well as with relevant associations of other countries, in accordance with PAFI’s mission.
PAFI examined other issues, particularly migration, peace and development, the subjects of a symposium last June co-sponsored by PAFI and DFA/OUMWA (Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers” Affairs headed by Undersecretary Jesus Yabes). As a prelude to the symposium, Ambassador Rosalinda V. Tirona (the Symposium’s Chairman) interviewed Ambassadors Montesa, Willy Gaa, and Baja in her Kalinga TV Internet Program on their experiences in assisting Filipino nationals during their tours of duty abroad.
The signing of the “Agreement on Mass Media Cooperation between PAFI and The Manila Times” last May has allowed PAFI to be more visible and productive. This was an initiative of Mr. Dante Ang 2nd, Manila Times president and CEO, and Ambassador Jose V. Romero, Jr. Through the publication every Saturday of the “Ambassadors’ Corner”, PAFI’s members have expressed their personal opinions on a wide range of subjects, including Sabah, the Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro, the Syrian crisis, the Visiting Forces Agreement and the US Pivot to Asia, the Russian Pivot to the New Asia, the West Philippine Sea/Spratlys and Arbitration by Itlos (International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea), the evolving concept of Sovereignty over natural resources, the ASEAN Economic Community 2015, Asean-China Cooperation in the Mekong River, Development Diplomacy and Poverty Alleviation, Obamacare and the RH Bill, the Perils of Privatization creating monopolies and restrictive policies increasing the cost of electricity, and Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction.
Ambassador Amado S. Tolentino’s series of three articles relating to climate change suggests the need for more effective environmental diplomacy in response to Yolanda. More directly, Ambassador Jose M. Zaldarriaga took charge of PAFI’s donation to the Yolanda victims, purchasing at a discount the 28 packs of food consisting of rice, sardines and assorted goods, and entrusting them to LDC for quick delivery to the super-typhoon victims.
With respect to protecting our nation’s historic buildings, the year 2013 finally saw the approval by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines of a historical marker for the Fujimi property in Tokyo. This was a special project of Ambassador Macario Laurel 4th, which was followed up with the Commission by Ambassador Eusebio Abaquin. PAFI has commended Senator Aquilino Pimentel and Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima for their particular roles in preserving this historic cultural heritage.
Last November, PAFI entered into a Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) with the Philippine Council on Foreign Relations to cooperate in the organization or sponsorships of conferences, seminars, public dialogue and lectures and exchanges of relevant information and expertise on certain fields, in view of their mutual interests in the fields of diplomacy and international relations. PAFI also has a Memorandum of Understanding on Academic Cooperation with the Foreign Service Institute of the Philippines. Ambassador Gaa drafted the MOC and the Commendations.
PAFI’s Board of Governors is composed of the following: Chairman Emeritus, Alfonso T. Yuchengco (Immediate Past Chairman); Chairman, Lauro L. Baja, Jr.; President, Jose M. Zaldarriaga; First Vice President, Jose V. Romero, Jr.; Second Vice President, Rosalinda V. Tirona; Auditor, Amado S. Tolentino; Legal Counsel, Willy C. Gaa; Press Officer, Clemencio F. Montesa; Members/Governors, Jose Macario Laurel 4th (Immediate Past President), Antonio P. Villamor, and Estrella A. Berenguel; Secretary General, Jaime S. Bautista (Acting Treasurer).
The present Officers/Governors of PAFI were sworn in by Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario last 24 May 2013, on which occasion he shared information on the latest international developments affecting Philippine interests. The members of the Board offered comments.