Press Release
March 21, 2018

Our Man in Geneva Must Be A Guardian of National Jobs
Speech Endorsing the Confirmation of Atty. Manuel Antonio Javier Teehankee as Permanent Representative to the World Trade Organization
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph G. Recto
21 March 2018

If diplomacy is the art of telling people to go to hell in such a way that they ask for directions, then the Dondi Teehankee could say it in a manner full of charm.

A tough negotiator, he can forcefully step on toes - and the other person would think he is playing footsies.

He is our man in Geneva, and because it is a lovely city, many would automatically conclude that the World Trade Organization is a cushy post that merely requires shopping on Rue du Marche, sipping espresso in some lakefront café, or daydreaming inside the Patek Museum.

Although trade walls have come down in the post-GATT era, there remains a frontline in which the Republic must send a sentinel to watch over our interests - and that is the WTO in Geneva.

While other posts have Filipino expatriates as constituencies to serve, our man in the WTO serves all the people back home.

They include tuna fishermen, rice farmers, electronic parts producers, entrepreneurs, factory workers whose industry must be served and not subverted whenever trading winds change direction.

And the nominee has the talent - and the training - to do just that.

He's been to Wall Street and to Padre Faura. He is a Bar topnotcher - an achievement which can be attributed to nature and nurture in equal parts.

This citizen of the world could have stayed abroad and parlayed his London School of Economics and Michigan masteral degrees, and his years of work in blue-chip law firms, into membership in America's 1 percent.

But this patriot opted to come back, to do hard labor in government, for low pay. The economist that he is, he probably knows how to spend his psychic income with gusto.

I have been with the nominee on several occasions abroad, our encounters both social and official in nature, and he impressed me as a talented man, abreast not just with the latest in law and finance, but also in culture.

He can parse tariff lines with the minutiae that he can explain to you the movement of a Swiss watch.

He can cite the fine print of the law with the same ease that he can describe the signature strokes of his favorite painters.

He knows how to mix drinks, and then deliver a toast which doesn't mix metaphors.

And frankly, Mr. Chairman, in my few forays abroad, I have met ambassadors like him, like the one I met last October who can talk about the Law of the Sea one minute, and the differences between local cheeses the next.

It is in them that I see the spirit and the spunk of legendary diplomats of yore like Leonie Guerrero, who was my grandfather's law partner, live.

And this is the standard and the tradition that, let me stress, political ambassadors must live up to: of being cultured and courageous at the same time; dedicated, dependable yet dignified; because the foreign service must deploy our best and brightest, and not the least and the last, of our race. The highly-competent and not just the well-connected.

Mr. President, my dear colleagues:

Manuel Antonio Javier Teehankee is one of our generation's best and brightest. Let us not further delay his deployment to Geneva.

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