By ROY C. MABASA
WITH the accession of former Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano as foreign affairs chief, a massive revamp is now in progress at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
(MANILA BULLETIN/RMN News)
DFA Spokesperson Rob Bolivar has confirmed over the weekend that Secretary Cayetano has appointed Jose Luis G. Montales as Undersecretary for Security and Consular Concerns. He replaces Ariel Abadilla, an appointee of former DFA secretary Perfecto Yasay
Montales was OIC city administrator of Taguig and is known to be a close ally of the Cayetanos, particularly the foreign affairs chief’s wife, Lani, the incumbent mayor of Taguig.
RJ Nieto, another rabid supporter of President Rodrigo Duterte who writes the personal political blog “Thinking Pinoy,” was appointed as the “Head of Strategic Communications” under the Office of Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs.
This was confirmed recently by no less than Nieto himself in the Facebook account of Thinking Pinoy. According to the blogger, he will “help bridge the communication gap between OFWs and the DFA.”
The DFA, however, has yet to substantiate Nieto’s supposed designation as communications officer.
“We have yet to receive official information on Thinking Pinoy’s reported appointment,” Bolivar said in a statement.
Another appointee currently creating a buzz is lawyer Tess Dizon De Vega, who is currently the consul general to New York.
De Vega, wife of Philippine Ambassador to Mexico Eduardo De Vega, was temporarily recalled to the home office when Cayetano assumed the top DFA post ast June to be part of the transition team. A career diplomat, she is a classmate of Cayetano at the University of the Philippines College of Law. Her brother, Bases Conversion and Development Authority chair Vince Dizon, was also part of Cayetano’s group during the transition period.
According to well-placed sources, aside from Montales, the foreign affairs chief has also reportedly imported his staff at the Senate to the DFA.
The same sources revealed that calls are also being made to replace the current head of the Office of Consular Affairs, Assistant Secretary Frank Cimafranca, for alleged inefficiency in solving the perennial backlog in passport processing.
As of this writing, Cayetano has yet to appoint a permanent DFA spokesperson currently being occupied by Bolivar on a temporary basis.
Bolivar was an executive director at the Office of Undersecretary for Policy headed by former acting DFA secretary Enrique Manalo.
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