CA confirms ad interim appointment of 16 DFA officials, including former priest

(ABS-CBN NEWS) MANILA — The Commission on Appointments (CA) approved on Wednesday the ad interim appointment of 16 foreign service officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), including a former priest.

“Following a public hearing this morning which considered and deliberated on their appointments, your Committee found them all to be fit and qualified, meritorious of their promotion to their respective ranks and title, and ruled to endorse them to the plenary for approval of this august chamber,” Senator Jinggoy Estrada, Chairperson of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, said in his sponsorship speech.

“We are optimistic that the DFA, with its roster of capable and highly effective diplomats and envoys, 16 of which are here with us this afternoon and hopeful of securing the nod of the Commission, will continue to perform its mission of promoting and protecting Philippine interests in the global community,” he added.

Other CA members manifested their support for the appointment.

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri called the foreign service officials “heroes” and thanked them for their work.

One of those confirmed was Emmanuel Fernandez, Chief of Mission Class II, Deputy Head of Mission and Consul General in Singapore, who was a diocesan priest from 1987 to 1999.

 “Since I was young I’ve always been taught by my parents that the best way to serve, to spend one’s life, is to serve other people and God,” Fernandez said when asked about his change in vocations.

“[W]hen I was young I thought that the best way to do that was to become a priest. But after a few years I realized I could serve God in other ways, more concrete, more impactful way. I decided to serve God as a diplomat and the opportunity presented itself in 2000.”

The ad interim appointment of Arnel Talisayon, Chief of Mission Class II, who is Minister and Consul General posted in Beijing, was also approved.

Despite the territorial dispute between the Philippines and China, Talisayon said they have not experienced any physical harassment.

“Dito po sa (Here in the) Philippine embassy, we would sometimes get hate emails from unnamed Chinese citizens. But for the Filipino community, so far wala naman kaming naririnig na balita (we have not yet heard any news),” Talisayon said.

He added that his engagements with Chinese officials are also “professional and cordial”.

Talisayon, meanwhile, agreed with tightening visa requirements for Chinese nationals.

“This has something to do with our efforts to make sure that the rights and welfare of travelers going to the Philippines are also protected by making sure that legitimate travelers are the ones who obtain their visas.”

Also confirmed was Noel Novicio, Minister at the Permanent Mission of the Philippines to the United Nations.

Asked by Senator Bato Dela Rosa on what action the Philippines can take regarding the sea row, Novicio said: “We have to continue talking to all the claimants in the South China Sea and diplomatic options should always be on the table…I personally think that it’s better to have a thousand days of negotiation than a single day of war.”

Other officials whose appointments were also confirmed are the following.


1. Maria Elena Algabre, DFA Assistant Secretary

2. Celeste Balatbat, Ambassador, Chile

3. Paul Cortes, Ambassador in Portugal

4. Arvin De Leon, DFA Assistant Secretary

5. Francisco Noel Fernandez, DFA Director General

6. Patrick John Hilado, DFA Assistant Secretary


1. Iric Arribas, Minister and Consul General, Washington DC, USA

2. Renato Dueñas, Jr., DFA Director

3. Raphael Hermoso, DFA Deputy Assistant Secretary and Executive Officer

4. Pablito Mendoza, Deputy Chief of Mission and Consul General, Belgium

5. Rhenita Rodriguez, Deputy Head of Mission and Consul General, London, UK

6. Gunther Emil Sales, DFA Executive Officer


1. Rea Oreta, First Secretary and Consul General, Canada