THE Commission on Appointments (CA) on Wednesday confirmed the appointment of Jose Manuel “Babe” Romualdez as Philippine ambassador to the United States (US).
No opposition was raised against the appointment of Romualdez. Members of the foreign affairs committee of the appointments body asked the nominee about his plan on several issues that had something to do with his position as ambassador to Washington.
Rep. Julieta Cortuna asked Romualdez how he would defend the Philippines on reported human rights violations and extrajudicial killings.
Romualdez admitted that he expects these issues to be raised, particularly in light of the killing of 17-year-old Kian Loyd de los Santos. He said he will inform the international community that the Philippine government investigates allegations of human rights violations on its own.
“I think these type of hearings and also investigations are very important and these are the things that people especially the international community would like to hear, that we are a country of laws and that we follow a system here, (that) we don’t need other countries to tell us what to do, we would do it on our own,” he said.
Romualdez was also asked about his plan on getting back the Balangiga bells from the US.
The retrieval of the bells was among the issues raised by President Rodrigo Duterte in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) in July. US Ambassador Sung Kim gave assurances that their government has been working to reach a resolution.
According to Romualdez, some people in Washington DC are helping to retrieve the bells but it will not be easy because of a law that disallows the return of any war memorial article.
“But I am told that sooner or later we will get those bells and I think Defense Secretary Mattis may be able to give us some good news regarding those bells during his visit in the country on October,” Romualdez said, referring to US Defense Secretary James Mattis.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson in his sponsorship speech for Romualdez said the nominee’s sartorial elegance and refined public relations make for an effective bilateral relations with the US.
He noted that Romualdez’s close ties with the US Embassy expedited the response of USS George Washington, which made possible rescue missions and emergency airlifts to Leyte when the province was hit by super typhoon Yolanda.
Lacson’s endorsement was seconded by Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto 3rd and Senators Loren Legarda and Juan Miguel Zubiri.
Romualdez will also have jurisdiction over the Commonwealth of Jamaica, Republic of Haiti, Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and Bermuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Dominica, The Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, and Saint Lucia.