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In reaction to senators, palace says OPS, DFA ‘complementary’

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By Genalyn Kabiling

There is no inconsistency between the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Office of Presidential Spokesperson (OPS) on foreign policy matters, Malacanang said Tuesday.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo (OPS / MANILA BULLETIN)

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo
(OPS / MANILA BULLETIN)

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said the two offices have actually been working in a “complementary way,” knowing their respective mandates.

With the President as the chief architect of Philippine foreign policy, he said both offices take cues from the orders, instructions and directives of the President.

“Contrary to what some senators claim, there has never been any inconsistency between the functions of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Office of the Presidential Spokesperson (OPS) as regards matters on Philippine foreign policy,” he said.

He said the DFA is the lead agency that advises and assists the President in planning, organizing, directing, coordinating and evaluating the total national effort in the field of foreign relations.

The OPS, on the other hand, informs the public of the statements of the President “to forestall any misunderstanding or misinterpretation, be they malicious or otherwise,” Panelo added.

He noted that journalists especially members of the Malacañang Press Corps regularly inquire from his office about the President’s view on critical issues

“Thus, we find it amusing that the DFA and our office are being pitted against each other when in truth and in fact our offices have always acted in a complementary way,” he said.

Some senators earlier questioned why there were two apparent spokespersons on the country’s foreign policy.

At the Senate hearing on the proposed budget of the DFA, Senator Panfilo Lacson noted that Panelo had been issuing statements about Philippine foreign policy. Senator Richard Gordon said DFA should be the principal spokesman on the matter.

Panelo said his office often defers to Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on issues about foreign policy when reporters cannot access him.

“It is only when the DFA Secretary has already made a pronouncement on a matter affecting the external affairs of the State that the PS echoes the same or when prior consultation has been made by the PS with the DFA Secretary or when there is a direct instruction from the President to make a statement or to make a clarification on the same,” he said.

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