Sponsorship Speech for New PH Ambassadors and Foreign Service Officer

The CA Committee on Foreign Affairs, chaired by Sen. Lacson, took up the appointments of:
Grace Relucio Princesa: Ambassador to Holy See with concurrent jurisdiction over Malta
Frank Revil Cimafranca: Ambassador to the Hellenic Republic with concurrent jurisdiction over Cyprus
Marichu Barredo Mauro: Ambassador to Brazil with concurrent jurisdiction over Colombia, Guyana, Suriname and Venezuela
Hjayceelyn Mancenido Quintana: Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates
Linglingay Fonacier Lacanlale: Ambassador to Argentina, with concurrent jurisdiction over Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay
Cesar Lee Hiong Wee: Ambassador to Indonesia
Ombra Jainal: Ambassador to the Czech Republic
Rowena F. Mutia: Foreign Service Officer, Class IV

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Mr. Chairman, distinguished colleagues, this Representation as Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, presided over a public hearing this morning to deliberate on the nominations of nine Ambassadors Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Department of Foreign Affairs – four of whom are Career Officers of the Department while the other five are political nominees – and one Foreign Service Officer.

Your Committee, after deliberating on their qualifications and fitness during the said public hearing, determined that they are fit and qualified to be in the posts where they are nominated and therefore ruled to recommend to the plenary their nominations for the consent of this body.

To this end, it is my honor and privilege to recommend that the Commission give its consent to the nominations of the following DFA Senior Officers, namely:

Ms. GRACE RELUCIO PRINCESA. I have first known Grace in one of the Inter-Parliamentary Unions’ meeting in Geneva, Switzerland which I attended in 2005. She made a quite good impression over a hearty breakfast of tinolang manok she prepared for us in her humble abode. I said unforgettable breakfast kasi sino ba naman ang makakalimot ng tinolang manok sa almusal? Anyway, more than a decade has passed since then, but my good impression of her remains.

She is known for her remarkable nationalistic fervor that earns her the moniker “Babaylan from Albay” or a “Filipina Warrior.” Her experience in Foreign Service spanning 31 years has accorded her recognitions in her diplomatic career, particularly for protecting the rights and promoting the welfare of our overseas Filipino workers.

While serving as a Consul in 1994, our nominee was recognized for her feat in handling the highly publicized case of Sarah Jane Balabagan —an OFW in the United Arab Emirates initially sentenced to death but was later returned to the Philippines.

In her capacity as the Charge D’Affaires and Consul General in Baghdad, Iraq in 2003, she facilitated the evacuation of some 150 Filipinos from the country, just two days before the United States’ troops set off bombs in Baghdad. She was later acclaimed as one of the Most Influential Filipinos in the Gulf.

Filipino religious communities laud her efforts in protecting the welfare of our Filipino migrants. It is no surprise that no less than the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines-Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People has expressly supported her nomination as the Ambassador to the Holy See.

Mr. Chairman and distinguished colleagues, it is my distinct privilege and honor to recommend that this body give its consent to the appointment of Ms. GRACE RELUCIO PRINCESA as the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Holy See, with concurrent jurisdiction over the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.

I so move, Mr. Chairman.

Our second nominee is Atty. FRANK REVIL CIMAFRANCA. He is fondly known to many as Jojo, a proud Boholanon and probinsyano whose success in foreign service has been largely attributed to sheer determination and intellect.

He joined the Department of Foreign Affairs in 1981 as a clerk and researcher. He later pursued his law studies while at the DFA. After passing the Bar in 1989 and his Foreign Service Officers’ Examinations the following year, Mr. Cimafranca steadily made his way up to significant overseas posts, most recent of which was as Consul-General in Dubai, United Arab Emirates from 2012 to 2015.

During his stint, he was credited for providing travel document gratis to almost 1,000 overseas Filipino workers in Dubai who availed of the amnesty program of the UAE government. He also assisted in the repatriation of Filipinos from the war-torn Syria and arranged the preemptive evacuation of more than 100 Filipinos working in a natural gas facility in the Algerian Sahara Desert in 2014.

In recognition (of) his outstanding service to our migrant workers, he was conferred with the Parangal-Kabalikat na Lingkod-Bayan Award in 2010.

Mr. Chairman and distinguished colleagues, it is my privilege and honor to recommend that this body give its consent to the appointment of Atty. FRANK REVIL CIMAFRANCA as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Hellenic Republic, with concurrent jurisdiction over the Republic of Cyprus.

I so move, Mr. Chairman.

Our third nominee is Ms. MARICHU BARREDO MAURO. She joined the Department in 1996 as a Special Assistant to the Diplomacy Unit of the Office of the Secretary. She later assumed high posts in Manama, Bahrain; Tel-Aviv, Israel; Brussels, Belgium; and Milan, Italy.

Her Foreign Service career is characterized by her extensive economic promotion skills and trade development expertise. In her role as the Third Secretary and Vice Consul in Bahrain (1997-2000), and later, as the Second Secretary and Consul in Israel (2001-2003), she actively promoted Philippine trade and investment concerns while passionately extending assistance to migrant workers facing labor and welfare problems.

In her most current post as Consul-General in Milan, Italy, she was cited for projects geared towards people empowerment, which include series of seminars on financial literacy, social security benefits, and awareness of the rights and privileges of Filipino workers in Northern Italy.

She also launched the Northern Italy Action Group Against Drugs, an initiative in line with President Duterte’s
campaign in combating (the) drug menace.

Mr. Chairman, it is my distinct privilege and honor to recommend that this body give its consent to the appointment of Ms. MARICHU BARREDO MAURO as the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Federative Republic of Brazil, with concurrent jurisdiction over the Republic of Colombia, the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, the Republic of Suriname and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

I so move, Mr. Chairman.

Our next nominee is HJAYCEELYN MANCENIDO QUINTANA. Mr. Chairman, our nominee holds an impressive academic portfolio. She has a diploma in Diplomatic Studies from Oxford University in the United Kingdom; a recipient of the British Chevening Scholarship; an awardee of the Anthony Kirk-Greene Prize for Best Research Paper; and a Fulbright Scholar of the Master of International Public Policy from the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, John Hopkins University in Washington D.C.

In 1992, she ranked first place in the Foreign Service Officers’ Examinations and started her diplomatic career as a Director at the Office of the United Nations and International Organizations. From then on, she had several important posts overseas, particularly at the Philippine Embassies in Beijing, China; Washington, D.C.; and Dublin, Ireland before her most recent nomination to the UAE post.

Among her many contributions were the high impact projects that strengthened ties among Filipino-American
groups. These included the launch of the Philippine-U.S. Congressional Caucus at the U.S. House of Representatives and the commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of Filipino migration to the U.S.

She also worked on the finalization of important diplomatic agreements between China and the Philippines. Finally, it was during her stint as the Consul General that the first resident of the Philippine Embassy was opened in Dublin, Ireland in 2009.

Mr. Chairman, it is my distinct privilege and honor to recommend that this body give its consent to the appointment of HJAYCEELYN MANCENIDO QUINTANA as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the United Arab Emirates.

I so move, Mr. Chairman.

Our fifth nominee is Ms. LINGLINGAY FONACIER LACANLALE. Ms. Lacanlale is an old hand in the Department of Foreign Affairs. Her Foreign Service career started in 1979 as the Principal Assistant of the ASEAN National Coordinating Agency of the Philippines. She held key positions through the years, including offices overseas such as at the Philippine Embassy in Vienna, Austria; the Philippine Consulate in New York, U.S.A.; and, the Embassy in the Kingdom of Thailand before retiring from the service in 2013.

In 2014, she was appointed as the Undersecretary for Administration of the DFA, which remains to be her current post having been re-appointed by President Duterte in 2017.

Her notable consular work has influenced milestone policies including the U.N. Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna’s adoption of the regulation on the use of ketamine, an anesthetic substance widely used by drug dependents.

She also worked with Filipino-American organizations in New York to fill the human services gap for the underprivileged Filipino-Americans residing in the city.

As the Undersecretary of the DFA, she has been cited for streamlining the procurement process; establishing an ISO-certified Quality Management System; and, strengthening the institutional foundation of the Department.

In her years of experience, she received a Department Award for Distinguished Service in 2013, A Royal Decoration of the Insignia of the Most Exalted Order of the White Elephant in 2012, and the Gawad Mabini Dakilang Kamanong Award in 2012, among others.

To this end, Mr. Chairman, I am honored to recommend that this body give its consent to the appointment of Ms. LINGLINGAY FONACIER LACANLALE as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Argentina, with concurrent jurisdiction over the Plurinational State of Bolivia, the Republic of Paraguay, and the Oriental Republic of Uruguay.

I so move, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Chairman, it is my distinct privilege as well to recommend that this body give its consent to the appointment of Mr. CESAR LEE HIONG TAN WEE as the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Indonesia. I so move, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Chairman, it is likewise my distinct privilege to recommend that this body give its consent to the appointment of Atty. OMBRA T. JAINAL as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Czech Republic. I so move, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Chairman, our last nominee is Ms. ROWENA MUTIA as Foreign Service Officer IV.

Mr. Chairman, Ms. Mutia lives up to her last name as being one of the pearls or beloveds – English translation for “mutya” or “minumutya” – of the Office of the Solicitor General.

Our nominee started her career as an underbar at the Valenton Danganan Law Office. She joined the Office of the Solicitor General a year after she passed Philippine Bar in 2009 and is presently holding the position of Associate Solicitor III.

She passed her Foreign Service Examinations in 2015, but reportedly deferred her entry to the Department of Foreign Affairs as she was recently promoted, at that time, as Associate Solicitor III at the OSG.

With her competence in the field and professionalism, her colleagues at the OSG believe that her impending transfer to the DFA is a great loss to their office.

Mr. Chairman, it is my distinct privilege and honor to recommend that this body give its consent to the appointment of Ms. ROWENA MUTIA as Foreign Service Officer IV.

I so move, Mr. Chairman.

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