By Macon Araneta | FilAm Star Correspondent
Foreign Affairs Sec. Alan Peter Cayetano said last December 29 that there will be “no change” in his policy and that he will continue to observe his so called “strategic silence” to “protect the interest” of the 10-million Filipinos working and living around the world in 170 countries.
“Whether you talk about diplomatic negotiations, whether you talk about diplomatic relations, or you talk about operational security, there are times when the DFA has to observe what I will call strategic silence,” stressed Cayetano. He then asked the public to resort to “reading between the lines.”
He said his Department’s silence was in line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s independent foreign policy where the Philippines would be “a friend to everyone but an enemy to no one.”
“We sometimes make room to negotiate. I’m just saying we cannot change next year,” Cayetano said.
Cayetano said the Philippines’ apparent silence on foreign issues was aimed at appeasing countries in dispute.
He said there were also things that his Department would not divulge. “And sometimes maybe, specific issues in the Middle East, South China Sea, etc.,” Cayetano said.
“Sometimes we have some information that we cannot make available yet because it will complicate the matter,” he said.
Since Cayetano assumed office, the agency and even the Office of Public Diplomacy or OPD (formerly the Public Information Services Unit) have not been releasing real-time statements on hot issues such as the recent declaration of U.S. President Donald Trump recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, or why they abstained from voting on the issue, or even to comment on North Korea’s launching of missiles.
The Department has also been silent on controversial domestic issues such as the appointments of former Taguig City Officer-in-Charge Administrator Joel Montales, a key ally of his wife Taguig Mayor Lani Cayetano, as Undersecretary for Security and Consular Concerns and of political blogger R.J. Nieto as “consultant” for migrant workers’ affairs who later filed his resignation.
The OPD’s role is to attend to the media’s queries and concerns in a timely manner.
For 2018, Cayetano plans to give a “better life” to all Filipinos by pursuing Duterte’s independent foreign policy.
He said the administration and the DFA focus for next year is a better life for all Filipinos.
He cited his recent conversation with the President and Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III where the latter said that in the 40 years that he was around, it was only at this moment when several countries, “even rival countries” come together and pay attention to the Philippines.
He said the more than $30 billion in loans, commitments and investments were products of Duterte’s independent foreign policy.
Furthermore, the DFA chief also plans to streamline the passport process aiming to copy the booking system of airline companies.
In 2018, the DFA is set to establish new regular consular offices in seven to nine places across the country.