Surfing the Philippine Embassy website is one of the tasks I include in my morning routine, of course at the same time with a cup of coffee. Been doing it for the past two years in lookout for interesting information that I might be going to share here with you in our ofwempowerment blog.
For almost a year now since I decided to rest for a while in community service and activities; reading important events, news and advisories at PhilEmb website makes me still feel connected with the community that I’ve been serving for the past 20 years as one of the community leaders in the Kingdom. The last time I was with Filipino Community event when Mr. Ernie Perez the newly elected Global President of United Filipinos Worldwide for Community Development (UFWCD) asked me to be the Master of Ceremony in the last September launching of PHLPost e-Postmo service. UFWCD is a SEC registered organization of OFWs worldwide where I was appointed as UFWCD-Riyadh Chapter adviser.
And during the past few months surfing the Embassy website, I noticed that many new Foreign Service Officers from Manila were posted in Saudi Arabia to fill those who ended their tour of duty.
First Secretary and Consul Mohd. Noordin Lomondot, the Head of the Consular Section left on May 29, 2013 to assume as First Secretary and Consul in the Philippine Embassy in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Consul Lomondot also served as Philippine Consul General in Jeddah from 2004 to 2007. He was rumored to replace the then Philippine Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Tony Villamor however, the post of the Chief of Mission was given to the current H.E. Ambassador Ezzedin H. Tago.
Section 29-Promotions of “Philippine Foreign Service Act of 1991” states that “Career ministers and chiefs of mission, class I and II, shall not have grade classifications within each class. Seniority shall be determined by their original dates of appointment as career ministers, as well as the dates of their original entry into the Department.”
On May 31, 2011 Ambassador Tago was confirmed by the Senate Commission on Appointments as Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with concurrent jurisdiction over the Republic of Yemen. Among those confirmed at that time by CA was Career Minister Uriel Norman R. Garibay, now Minister and Philippine Consul General in Jeddah.
I was one of those who lobbied for Ambassador Ezz Tago the then Minister/Consul General and Charge d’Affaires of the Embassy in Riyadh. I was also among the OFWS along with FilCom Jeddah leaders who pushed the appointment of Career Minister Norman Garibay who was at DFA-Manila overseeing the Office of European Affairs as Executive Director. But prior to that position, he was the First Secretary and Consul in Philippine Embassy in Canberra, Australia. In 1993 when I was a neophyte 28 year old OFW in Jeddah, the good Consul General Norman Garibay was a young and blooming diplomat with a rank of Vice Consul.
Another Embassy official ended her two year tour of duty was Ms. Nilda Oliva, Social Welfare Attache from the DSWD. Attache Oliva was replaced by DSWD Social Welfare Attaché Ms. Perlita Panganiban whose prior appointment, served as Chief of Division in Institutional Development and head of Technical Division, of DSWD in Cordillera Administrative Region.
The Filipino community also welcomed Hon. Marshall Louis M. Alferez, who assume as Minister and Consul General in the Embassy. He will supervise the assistance-nationals sections (ANS) vacated by my sparkling friend Consul Atty. Roussel Reyes. Alferez in 1999 was posted in London as First Secretary and Consul in charge of Political Section and eventually became Minister and Consul. He joined the Department of Foreign Service in 1996.
Just last month, former Philippine diplomat to France Hon. Winston Dean Siscon Almeda was designated Third Secretary and Vice Consul of Philippine Embassy in Riyadh, who replaced Consul Mohd. Noordin Lomondot as head of the Consular Section.From March 2008 to July 2009, Hon. Winston Almeda was Special Assistant in the Office of the Undersecretary for Special and Ocean Concerns, handling issues relating to the peace processes, maritime security and anti-terrorism.
If we have new career diplomats at Philippine Embassy, we have also newcomers, one of them is Ms. Maria Angelica Capili-Genotiva, Third Secretary and Vice Consul who joined the Department of Foreign Affairs on 7 July 2008. Ms. Genotiva passed the Foreign Service Examinations in 2007. Her first foreign assignment on 26 February 2011 at the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
Ms. Nora Jamil Nirza joined the Department of Foreign Affairs in November 2002. In the Home Office she was assigned at the Office of Consular Affairs. She is a graduate of BSC-Marketing (cum laude) from the University of San Jose Recoletos-Cebu.
Mr. Rene Diamante Salazar is a graduate of AB Economics from the Sacred Heart College in 1988. He joined the government service in July 2001. Initially, he was assigned at the Office of Consular Affairs as clerk and served in Lucena Regional Consular Office as Alternate Signing Officer. Prior to his assignment in Riyadh, Mr. Salazar has undergone seminars and training on Phil Passport: Production, Security Features and Fraud Detection; Course on Personality Enhancement and Public Service; Training on anti-Trafficking in Persons for Consular Officers, Protecting Domestic Workers from their Vulnerability to Forced Labor and Trafficking. He was a recipient of the Outstanding Employee award in 2006.
Less than a year ago, dynamic, energetic and respected career diplomat Mrs. Germinia V. Aguilar-Usudan assumed her duties as Consul in Jeddah. She was stationed at the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh as Second Secretary and Consul from 2002 to 2006.
Mrs. Aguilar-Usudan who is a lawyer, served as Principal Assistant at the Office of Consular Affairs of the Department of Foreign Affairs from June 1997 to October 1999, as Third Secretary and Vice Consul at the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi, UAE (1999-2002). When she was placed back at DFA-Manila , she was the Vice Chairman of the Overseas Absentee Voting Secretariat. After a two year stint in Manila she was posted back abroad as First Secretary and Consul at the Philippine Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia.
You can surf the Philippine Embassy website at http://www.philembassy-riyadh.org/ or click this link to see the updated list of Philippine Embassy Personel http://www.philembassy-riyadh.org/index.php/about-us/embassy-personnel. For Philippine Consulate General located in Jeddah, please click the following link http://www.pcgjeddah.org/ .
The U.S. Department of State in their website has labeled every non-European country a “hardship post” for their American diplomats and that include Saudi Arabia in the Middle East.
Factors considered belong to hardship post are difficult living conditions due to climate, crime, health care and pollution. Other factor like security issues, for example in a war torn Afghanistan.
Philippine government may consider Saudi Arabia a hardship post for their Filipino Foreign Service workers. Our government should compensate their hardship for taking care of our OFWs in distress, not to mention that there are estimated more or less 1 million Filipinos working in Saudi Arabia under their watch. For me, naturally they deserved 15% to 20% extra pay as “hardship differential”. However in return, we are expecting our Foreign Service officers to serve heartily and provide adequate services to their kababayans especially to those OFWs in distress who needs their utmost care and attention. Many of them are those in detention. I am hoping that the new ANS Chief, the Minister and Consul General Marshall Louis M. Alferez will give his full attention to those fellow OFWs incarcerated in various jails of the Kingdom.
Well, as what I mentioned in my old blog post “from KSA to Washington DC, USA”, after sakit sa ulo, after all the kunot noo, lagas ng buhok, and batikos from some community organization and press – to recompense all of the above, will be a good posting and shining moments somewhere in the top 10 best cities of Europe and America. – BongAmora
Source: Philippine Embassy-Riyadh website, Philippine Consulate in Jeddah website, U.S. Department of State website