President Benigno Aquino 3rd on Tuesday bestowed the highest Philippine diplomatic honor to outgoing Singaporean Ambassador Velupilla Ponnundurai Hirubalan.
Aquino conferred the Order of Sikatuna with the highest rank of Grand Cross to Hirubalan for his contributions in strengthening bilateral relations between the Philippines and Singapore.
At the awarding ceremony in Malacañang, the president cited the ambassador for the facilitation of Singapore’s humanitarian assistance to the Philippines, particularly after the onslaught of Typhoon Pablo in December 2012, the Bohol earthquake in October 2013, Typhoon Haiyan in November 2013, and Typhoon Hagupit in December 2014.
Hirubalan, who has 17 years of diplomatic experience, was likewise commended for his efforts in arranging high-level meetings between the leaders of the two countries, including the state visit to the Philippines of Singapore President Tony Tan Keng Yam on April 2 to 5 last year, and the working visit of President Aquino to Singapore on November 18 to 19, 2014.
The envoy was also cited for his initiative in revitalizing the two countries’ bilateral relations through the convening of the 2nd Round of Informal Consultations on the Philippines-Singapore Action Plan on July 4, 2014, 10 years after its inaugural meeting in 2004.
Aquino recognized Hirubalan’s efforts in encouraging his government to fully support various Philippine initiatives in the regional and multilateral arena.
He further cited him for his hard work in the continued enhancement of people-to-people ties between the two countries through Singapore’s technical assistance under the auspices of the Singapore Cooperation Program, the Temasek Foundation, and the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.
Hirubalan was posted to the Philippines on March 12, 2012, after stints in the Middle East, North Africa and the Singaporean Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Central Asia Directorate.
He also served as director of the ministry’s Asean Directorate in Southeast Asia, and ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kingdom of Bahrain, and the Sultanate of Oman.
After his diplomatic tour of duty in the Philippines, Hirubalan is set to assume his next post as Deputy Secretary-General of Asean for Asean Political Security Community on February 15. He will succeed outgoing Deputy Secretary-General Nyan Lynn of Myanmar.