By Mario Casayuran
A former Catholic priest will make a good Philippine Ambassador to Turkey, one of the most influential Muslim countries.
These were the sentiments of Senator Gregorio B. Honasan II, chairman of the Senate national defense and security committee, and Senator Sherwin T, Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate economic affairs committee, on the confirmation of the appointment of Raul Salavaria Hernandez as Philippine Ambassador to Turkey.
The confirmation of Hernandez, a former Marine reservist, was eventually recommended by Senator Panfilo Lacson, chairman of the foreign affairs committee of the bicameral Commission on Appointments (CA), to the CA in plenary session.
Along with Hernandez, the CA, in plenary session presided over by Senate President Vicente Sotto III, concurrent CA chairman, the Commission also confirmed the appointments of five other ambassadors and a ranking Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) official.
Leah Basinang-Ruiz as Chief of Mission Class 1, as Ambassador to Poland, Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
Alex Garcia Chua, Chief of Mission, as Ambassador to Kenya, Burundi, Union of the Comoros, Republic of Congo, Malawi, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, Tanzania, Uganda, and South Sudan, and as Permanent Representative to the United Nations Environmental Program and United Nations Human Settlements Program (UN-HABITAT).
Ma. Theresa B. Dizon-de Vega as Chief of Mission Class I, as Ambassador to Germany.
Henry Sicad Bensurto Jr., Chief of Mission, Class I.
Jesus Santos Domingo, Chief of Mission, Class I, as Ambassador to New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa
Leo M. Herrera as Chief of Mission, Class I, as Ambassador to Denmark.
When asked whether a former priest would make a good Philippine envoy, Honasan replied: ‘’Yes, he has the temperament, patience, spiritual dimension, somber and he is more calm.’’
Gatchalian, on the other hand, said that Herandez, a former DFA spokesman, is exposed in the religious environment “and knowing the place, Turkey, being a Muslim country, he knows the terrain and how to move around the religious intricacies.’’
‘’Turkey is one of the most influential Muslim countries,’’ he added.
Hernandez, a Diocesian, was a priest four about four years. He left the priesthood in 1997.