Press Release
October 4, 2011


A total of P150 million annually could become savings on the part of the government as twelve embassies and consulates abroad are facing closure, Senator Franklin Drilon yesterday said.

Drilon, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said that while there would be savings particularly from maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) and allowances of officials, the fund would be "realigned" to other foreign posts that need more resources.

"We do not intend to ask DFA to undertake a retrenchment program. What we are asking them to do is to realign these funds to countries where we need them because of our overseas Filipinos," Drilon said.

"We will not reduce the budget as a result of this closure but we have asked Secretary del Rosario to deploy the manpower and resources to areas where assistance to our overseas Filipino workers would be needed," he said, adding that the "savings" will not be returned to the National Treasury.

There are 67 embassies and 23 consular offices and four missions to international organizations abroad.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario, however, declined to specify the embassies or consular offices that would be affected, saying President Benigno Aquino III has yet to approve their recommendations.

In a budget hearing of the DFA's proposed P10.9 billion outlay for 2012, he said that the DFA has recommended the closure of 12 posts in two years, or until 2013. But Drilon said the DFA should "accelerate" the rationalization program and have it done next year.

Del Rosario said they are looking at shutting down six foreign posts by first or second quarter next year and another six by middle of next year.

"It is for our national interest that we have a better availment of our limited resources," Drilon told DFA officials during the hearing.

Drilon said that while the government's rationalization plan would have political and diplomatic implications, "national interest should be our prime consideration."

"No foreign policy is altruistic in character. Foreign policies should always be for the benefit of the nation promulgating the foreign policy. In this particular case, it is to our national interest that we rationalize our presence abroad because of our situation, economically, and the need for consular services to OFWs," added Drilon.

During a budget hearing of the DFA last year, Drilon asked then Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo to rationalize Philippine presence in several countries and consider trade, investments and number of Filipinos.

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