Press Release
November 17, 2016


Believing that the Department of Foreign Affairs is not only the country's representative but also its eyes and ears to the world, Senator Richard J. Gordon wants to ensure that the department increases its capacity and competency.

During the deliberations for the DFA budget, Gordon noted that the department's budget should cover capacity-building programs in order to better function for the country's benefit.

"Do we have enough and are we really coming up with good DFA experts, for example in the Middle East, Arab-speaking? How many Arab-speaking ambassadors do we have? Not only Arab-speaking diplomats but also knowing how Arabs think? This is not for affectation, this is for real Politiques. What I am saying - are we adequately prepared so we can study the world so we can make the right decisions?" he asked.

The senator pointed out that the capabilities of the country's diplomatic corps should be improved by studying in foreign countries, while on assignment in the country, so they will gain more in-depth knowledge of the different posts that they are assigned to.

He explained that the DFA should be able to educate the President and the other branches of government on developments around the globe, the possible impact of such developments on the country and policy recommendations, if any, to help them in making well researched decisions related to foreign issues.

"What I am saying is are we adequately prepared so we can study the world so we can make the right decisions? Strengthen our Armed Forces, get more experts in the field and in the process we are going to have, not only a strong military but a stronger, even more professional Department of Foreign Affairs that has the adequate number of well-trained analysts who can read the previews for us on where the world is going, not just in the economy," he added.

The DFA admitted that they currently have only one ambassador and a staff member who are experts on Arab culture and can speak the language.

"What if he dies?" Gordon pointed out?

He noted that the DFA has a lot of important and strategic things to do for the country such as taking care of the problems of overseas Filipino workers, finding out where business trends are going in the world, what the country can bring in, what it can trade including the security strengths of our neighboring countries.

"That's why it's so important. I really think we take it for granted, the country takes it for granted that the DFA is the premiere Cabinet position in the country. They are our eyes and ears to the whole world. They listen to the footsteps of the world. They look at trends and that's why we have to fully support them going forward. We need to get the President educated by the DFA, we need to get the Congress educated by the DFA. And we must give them the tools," Gordon said.

"We want a career service corps in DFA, one that we can rely on. That's these are not frivolous questions, they are serious questions borne out of respect for expertise, for skills, for talent, for intelligence and certainly candidness to be able to give the real situation to the president and other officials. What capacities do they need, apart from nice cars to make sure that they can go to their meetings, apart from having a more permanent, respectable chancery? Apart from the fact that they will need to hire the best and the brightest from UP, from Ateneo, La Salle, Mindanao State University and other universities. In order to open our eyes, our ears and our minds, we need to change radically. We need to realize and need to face that we need a culture shift in the way we look at the DFA," he added.

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