Press Release
December 6, 2017

Sponsorship Speech for 4 Ambassadors
Commission of Appointments
Senator Panfilo M. Lacson
Dec. 6, 2017

Mr. Chairman, distinguished colleagues, this Representation, as Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, presided over a public hearing this morning to deliberate on the nominations of four Ambassadors Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Department of Foreign Affairs, three of whom are career officers of the Department while one is a political nominee. Your committee, after deliberating on their qualifications and fitness during the public hearing, determined that they are fit and qualified to be in their posts where they are nominated and therefore ruled to recommend to the plenary their appointments for the consent of the body.

It is therefore my honor and privilege to recommend that the Commission give its consent to the nomination of the following DFA Senior Officers, namely:

Ambassador JOCELYN Singson BATOON-GARCIA. Our first nominee is a lawyer and a career diplomat by profession who has been in the Foreign Service for 37 years. She started her career in the Department in 1980 as the Principal Assistant to the Office of Administration. She has since assumed significant positions overseas, particularly, at the Philippine embassies in Tokyo, Japan; Washington D.C., USA; Caracas, Venezuela; and Bangkok, Thailand. In 2015, no less than the Royal Kingdom of Thailand conferred on her The Most Exalted Order of the White Elephant, a recognition for the dedicated service of high achievers and government leaders.

She has been highly credited for her efforts in strengthening the political, cultural and economic relations of the Philippines with other countries. This includes the First Ambassador's/Consuls-General Tour in the Philippines in 2005, which was participated in by 500 Filipino-American tourists; consular outreach missions in the Caribbean territories that had not been previously visited by any consular team; and the year-long Centennial Celebration of the Philippine Independence in the U.S., which was esteemed as the longest and biggest celebration of the Philippine history abroad since 1904.

Mr. Chairman and distinguished colleagues, it is my distinct privilege and honor to recommend that this body give its consent to the appointment of Ambassador JOCELYN S. BATOON-GARCIA as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Kingdom of Norway with concurrent jurisdiction over the Republic of Iceland, the Kingdom of Denmark, the Republic of Finland, and the Kingdom of Sweden.

I so move, Mr. Chairman.

Our Second nominee is Ambassador DENIS YAP LEPATAN. The subject-nominee joined the Department immediately after passing his Foreign Service Examination in 1980 and worked his way up to assume significant foreign posts in Geneva, New Delhi, Colombo, and Rome.

Prior to his current appointment, he was assigned as the Deputy Permanent Representative of the Philippine Mission to the United Nations for more than seven years -- exemplifying his extensive experience in crafting international development policies and in demonstrating effective administrative management. Colleagues and other DFA officials have welcomed subject official's proposed appointment to said post in view of his experience and accomplishments during his stint in Geneva.

Among the many meritorious dossiers of Ambassador Lepatan, the most distinct is his service reputation on account of his integrity and unblemished service record in his 36 long years in the Department. He is well-respected among his colleagues who regard him as an excellent team player, a good planner, and a decisive leader.

Mr. Chairman and distinguished colleagues, it is my privilege and honor to recommend that this body give its consent to the appointment of Ambassador DENIS YAP LEPATAN as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Switzerland with concurrent jurisdiction over the Principality of Liechtenstein.

I so move, Mr. Chairman.

The third nominee holds the rank of Lieutenant Colonel of the AFP Reserve Force, a member of the Philippine Bar.

MR. EDUARDO JOSE ATIENZA DE VEGA has been in foreign service for 26 years, initially as the Director of the U.S. Division, Office of the American Affairs of the DFA from 2006 to 2007. In such capacity, the U.S. State Department bestowed upon him a Certificate of Recognition for his contributions to the enhancement of the Philippine-US relations.

He was subsequently appointed as Consul General to Barcelona, Spain from 2008 to 2011, which was his longest foreign posting to date. Interestingly, during his stint in Barcelona, the Spanish government declared the prison cell of Dr. Jose Rizal at the Montjuic Castle a "place of honor." He had also led the country's donation of the three pairs of Philippine shells used as the holy water fonts in the main nave of the world-famous La Sagrada Familia Church in Barcelona.

He laid the groundwork for our milestone accomplishments in clarifying provisions in the Visiting Forces Agreement, specifically in the detention of US servicemen in the Philippines during his stint as the Assistant Secretary for Legal Affairs of DFA. More recently, in his capacity as the Ambassador to the United Mexican States, he established the Philippine Trade and Investment Center in Mexico City, which raised the profile of Philippine exports, reportedly resulting in a high of 32.8% growth rate in 2016.

His records would tell us that he has the penchant for intense debates, having been an eloquent public speaker, speechwriter, and orator. Between you and me, I do not mind if he speak a mile a minute, as long as he does service to our country.

Mr. Chairman, it is my distinct privilege and honor to recommend that this body give its consent to the nomination of Ambassador EDUARDO JOSE ATIENZA DE VEGA as the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Kingdom of Belgium, The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, the Commission of the European Communities and the Council of the European Union.

I so move, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Chairman, our last nominee but hopefully not the least, is MR. DEMETRIO REMEDIOS TUASON. He is an old hand in the business sector, whose family --and this is a matter of public record -- traces roots from the wealthiest man, Don Antonio Tuason, in the country in the late 18th century.

He served as the Chairman Emeritus of Armscor Global Defense, Inc. Under his leadership, he was able to transform the company into the leading Philippine arms manufacturer and exporter specializing in affordable firearms. In fact, Armscor firearms and ammunitions are now being exported to over 60 countries on six continents.

His exceptional accomplishments in the business sector bestowed on him the Leadership Award by the Association of Firearms and Ammunition Dealers of the Philippines in 2003.

Amid his business acumen, Mr. Tuason is also admired for his philanthropic work, with Armscor as the main benefactor and the largest source of volunteers for Bata Foundation, a shelter for children which also later engaged in disaster relief operations.

Mr. Chairman, it is my distinct privilege and honor to recommend that this body give its consent to the appointment of MR. DEMETRIO REMEDIOS TUASON as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the United Mexican States, with concurrent jurisdiction over Belize, the Republic of Costa Rica, the Republic of El Salvador, the Republic of Guatemala, the Republic of Honduras, the Republic of Nicaragua, the Republic of Panama, the Dominican Republic, and the Republic of Cuba.

I so move, Mr. Chairman.

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