01/01/2010: New Year Message of Secretary Alberto G. Romulo
We look back to remember the past year with a sense of fulfillment and gratitude in our hearts.
While 2009 brought many challenges, it was also a year of many accomplishments. With unity and resolve, the individual efforts of the men and women of the Philippine Foreign Service put together contributed to the collective endeavor of making the Filipino nation stronger and more resilient.
With our mandate being one of the broadest among Government agencies, the Department’s work is no mean feat. Yet with support and teamwork, we have sought to deliver the world-class service that our country and people deserve.
Our frontline services continued to improve significantly. We developed innovative services, including the Philippine e-Passport, 18,000 of which have been issued to date since its launch on August 11. We reached out to a wider number of Filipinos within the Philippines through our Regional Consular Offices and Mobile Passport Services. By end-November 2009, the total number of passports issued by the Department, including foreign services posts, totaled 2,1912,177.
We further aim to improve the delivery of consular services with the transfer of the Office of Consular Affairs to its new home at the ASEANA Business Park this year.
Abroad, we devoted our energies to ensuring utmost protection for Filipinos through active negotiations and diplomacy and their access to overseas absentee voting.
We sustained the mobilization of external resources for our nations’ economic advancement and social development, reinforced by the President’s visits this year to the Middle East, Thailand, South Korea, Russia, Egypt, Japan, Brazil and the United States.
We redoubled our efforts to promote our nation’s vital interests and to strengthen the foundations for peaceful, progressive and prosperous world through active engagement in relevant global issues such as nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, counter-terrorism, migration, climate change and inter-faith dialogue.
With substantial groundwork laid, we look forward to our hosting this year of the Special Non-Aligned Movement Ministerial Meeting on Interfaith Dialogue and Cooperation for Peace and Development as well as the Philippine Presidency of the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference.
With the President’s unequivocal support, we ensured that our best assets-our people-are cared for. 2009 witnessed the Department’s budget resources soar to a record high of Php 12.39 billion or a three-fold increase in seven years, from a mere Php4.39 billion in 2002. With the increase in the Department’s budget also came other benefits:
- The implementation of the Salary Standardization Law (SSL) III, which increased the salaries of DFA personnel to make them on a par with the private sector in the next four years,
- 13th month pay plus a cash gift of Php5,000, adjusted to SSL III rates,
- Implementation of Foreign Language Program in Foreign Service Posts,
- Additional appropriations for the full implementation of E.O. 461,
- The grant of 60% of the 2006 Overseas Allowance differential,
- The establishment of the Provident Fund,
- Php10,000 Performance Bonus from the President,
- President Arroyo’s approval of the grant of the Php30,000 Staple Food Allowance, and
- Salary Increase with differential for Contract of Service Staff.
In my more than five years in the Department, I have witnessed the selfless dedication and demonstrated commitment of our people every day. I take this opportunity to thank all of you for your hard work, support and teamwork.
Inspired by what we have achieved, I urge you to continue giving your best and excelling. As we welcome the New Year, let us continue to give life to the Department’s legacy by serving our country and people with even more fervor.
ALBERTO G. ROMULO
Secretary of Foreign Affairs
01 January 2010