Press Release
August 14, 2012

DFA likely to get budget increase to acquire
consular office buildings, says Drilon

The Senate Finance Committee will recommend an increase in the budget of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in 2013 to capacitate the agency to acquire buildings to house embassy and consular offices abroad, its chairman Senator Franklin M. Drilon said today.

"We are amenable to increasing the budget of the DFA through a higher percentage of the use of the consular services fund," said Drilon, who was disappointed to know that there are consular offices abroad that do not have proper and decent office.

At present, the agency is authorized only to use 10 percent of the proceeds from consular services as part of its building fund which they use to acquire and lease offices and residences abroad, noted Drilon. The building fund is budgeted with P428.29 million in 2013.

"We are willing to double it to 20 percent. We can certainly use some of these consular funds for acquisition of our chanceries and residences, so in the long term, we will have our own chanceries and embassies abroad. Other countries have done this program long time ago. It is time we do it for our country," stressed Drilon.

Drilon, however, imposed a condition on granting an additional budget for DFA, which, he emphasized, additional fund must be used exclusively to finally acquire consular offices abroad.

"I am willing to consider amending your budget to increase the percentage of the use of consular fund on the condition that it will be used exclusively for acquisition of a chancery or residence," he said.

He requested the DFA to prioritize which consular offices it plans to acquire, and submit the same to the committee for further review.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario, for his part, was pleased to hear of Drilon's proposal, and said: "that's a great suggestion and its' a wonderful gesture on your part."

The DFA defended its proposed 2013 budget of P11.64 billion, including automatic appropriation, an increase of 6.6 percent from its current budget of P10.92 billion.

Presently, the DFA has 60 embassies, 20 consulate generals all over the world, which mostly are leased in the amount of P600 million yearly.

Meanwhile, Drilon pushed the DFA to step up efforts to attract former Filipinos who lost their citizenship to avail of the Dual Citizenship Law, which Drilon authored in 2003.

He noted that only about 95,000 Filipinos abroad have regained their citizenship since the law was passed.

"I am disappointed at the implementation of this Dual Citizenship Law. The 95,000 is a very small percentage of the universe of former Filipino citizens who could have availed of dual citizenship law," Drilon said.

"I requested DFA to intensify efforts to attract our former compatriots to once more become Filipino citizens. I am talking about a very definite target and very detailed communication plan to address concerns which are actually non-existent," stressed Drilon.

"Malaking bagay na sa ngayon ang ating mga kababayan ay mataas ang tingin sa kasalukuyang administrasyon. They are proud that the Aquino administration is doing what they're supposed to be doing," he said.

In a related news, the proposed budget of the Office of the President of P2.7 billion was also approved, together with the budgets of the Presidential Management Staff of P330.063 million and the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office of P35.47 million.

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