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DFA now has six undersecretaries after Abella’s appointment

By Roy Mabasa
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) will now have a total of six undersecretaries following the appointment of former Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella.

DFA logo and DFA building's facade (Manila Bulletin)

DFA logo and DFA building’s facade (Manila Bulletin)

Abella will be in charge of the Office of the Undersecretary for Strategic Communications, a newly created office in the DFA structure.

DFA sources said Abella can technically assume office immediately since his appointment papers have already been issued by Malacañang.

Abella was appointed on October 27 based on the official document released by the Palace only on Thursday, November 23.

Aside from Abella, the other DFA undersecretaries are the following: Enrique Manalo (Policy); Linglingay Lacanlale (Administration); Sarah Lou Arriola (Migrant Workers Affairs); Jose Luis Montales (Civilian Security and Consular Concerns); and Manuel Teehankee (International Economic Relations).

Both Manalo and Lacanlale are career diplomats, while Arriola and Montales were “protégées” of Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano.

On the other hand, Teehankee assumed office in July, 2016, the first DFA undersecretary to be appointed under the Duterte administration. He was appointed shortly after Perfecto Yasay Jr. was named DFA secretary. Yasay, however, resigned after the Commission on Appointments rejected his nomination last March.

This developed as Sec. Cayetano is reportedly poised to implement a “reshuffle” of key personnel beginning next month.

“Several individuals will be transferred and the lucky ones will be kicked up (promoted) or placed in juicy postings either at the main office or abroad,” a well-placed source said.

It was learned that among the names reportedly being considered for the impending reshuffle at the DFA are Consul General Maria Teresa Dizon-De Vega, Charge d’ affaires Elmer Cato and Assistant Secretary Mei-Ann Austria.

De Vega, who now heads the Philippine consulate in New York, will reportedly replace Austria as assistant secretary for American affairs. While Cato, currently the Charge d’Affaires to Iraq, is being groomed to become the next DFA spokesman, vice Robespierre Bolivar. Bolivar is originally a senior staff at the office of Undersecretary Manalo.

Austria, who previously served under former DFA Secretary Albert Del Rosario when the latter was ambassador to the United States, is reportedly due for posting Canada.

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    Does cayetano really need those many undersecretaries? Or are those positions given to the favorites? Positions are created for the members of the cheering squad? Who knows and who cares?