By Roy Mabasa
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano welcomed the appointment of former Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella as undersecretary of the newly created Office of the Strategic Communications at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
Abella’s entry to the DFA brings the total number of undersecretaries to six, the “biggest ever number in the history of the department,” a senior diplomat told the Manila Bulletin.
“On behalf of the men and women of the Philippine foreign service, I would like to welcome former Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella to the DFA family,” Cayetano said in a statement issued today.
In welcoming Abella, the DFA secretary said he expects the former Palace spokesman to help the Philippines more effectively deliver its message to the rest of the world.
Abella had served as the President’s spokesperson in July 2016 until October 27, 2017,
“As head of strategic communications, which is among the duties he will be assigned to, Undersecretary Abella can be expected to help us more effectively articulate President Duterte’s foreign policy and his directive to serve and protect the millions of ‘kababayan’ OFWs we have abroad,” Cayetano said.
The DFA chief added that Abella will be an asset to the department, “as there is much work to be done in the international community and the Filipino communities around the world.”
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 brought in by Cayetano shortly after he assumed office in June.
Arriola used to work at the Senate office of then Senator Cayetano while Montales was formerly city administrator of the local government of Taguig under Mayor Lanie Cayetano, wife of the DFA secretary.
On the other hand, Teehankee was the first DFA undersecretary to be appointed under the Duterte administration. He was named shortly after Perfecto Yasay assumed the DFA secretary post on July 1, 2016. Yasay however resigned after the Commission on Appointments rejected his nomination.
“There was even a time when it was proposed that the number of (DFA) undersecretaries be reduced to four,” the senior diplomat who spoke on anonymity said when asked about the latest number of appointments in the foreign affairs office.
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