By Ali Macabalang
COTABATO CITY – The current Philippine ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia assumed on Thursday the chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Riyadh Committee (ARC), a 19-year old diplomatic body sustaining an enhanced link among member envoys especially on political, economic and cultural dimensions.
Adnan Alonto took over from outgoing ARC Chairman Koko Lait, the incumbent ambassador of Myanmar to the KSA.
Alonto said he accepted the group’s chairmanship “with great pride and humility including (added) responsibilities and obligations… at a time of immense and exciting changes, challenges and development unfolding in this part of the world, particularly here in Saudi Arabia.”
“Amidst such rapid changes, it is important that we all share our perspectives and views so we can better understand what they mean through our different lenses. Let the ARC, therefore, serve as our comfort zone as we learn the other cultures of the world; share our concerns and issues in fruitful discussions and bring to bear the things that will inure benefits to our respective countries,” Alonto told fellow ARC member-officials in formal rites at a posh KSA hotel.
News about Ambassador Adnan Alonto taking over the ARC leadership was welcomed by Filipinos, including officials of the Duterte government, his peers, friends, relatives and alumni of the Mindanao State University (MSU)-Marawi main campus where he finished his baccalaureate degree in the 70s.
Alonto’s rise to the ARC leadership coincided with the current investment-gathering tour to the oil-rich Muslim Kingdom by a congressional delegation led by House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Alonto is one of the sons of the late Senator Domocao Alonto, who was credited for bringing information about the existence and aspirations of minority Muslims in the Philippines to the outside world.