Sen. Richard J. Gordon approved the proposed P22.093-billion budget of the Department of Foreign Affairs and its attached agencies for 2021 after conducting a public hearing last Thursday.
Gordon, vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, pointed out that the DFA is a very important agency that should be properly funded to ensure that it could carry out its functions professionally and effectively.
DFA Secretary Teodoro Locsin led a phalanx of DFA officials to explain before the committee the nuts and bolts of their proposed budget.
“The DFA is very important. I really think sometimes it is taken for granted. Only remembered when people get passports or there are problems among their relatives in other countries. But it’s really a lot more important than that. They are our eyes and ears to the whole world. They listen to the footsteps of the world,” Gordon said.
Gordon noted that the DFA is mandated to be the primary government entity to implement the three vital pillars of Philippine foreign policy
1. Preservation and enhancement of national security.
2. Promotion and attainment of economic security.
3. Protection of the rights and promotion of the welfare and interest of Filipinos overseas.
DFA is also the lead agency that shall advise and assist the President in planning, organizing, directing, coordinating, and evaluating the total national effort in the field of foreign relations.
“Domestic policy can defeat us; foreign policy can kill us. Independent foreign policy means you can do things with other countries where you are not beholden to anyone, that you can do things in the best interest of our nation,” Gordon added as he stressed the vital role of the DFA.
After the DFA officials satisfactorily answered the questions posed by Gordon and the other senators who attended the hearing, the proposed budget was deemed submitted to the plenary.
“There being no other questions, the proposed budget of the DFA and its attached agencies is approved to be submitted to the plenary, subject to whatever funding we can get you to make your jobs a lot more professional, at lot more efficient and a lot more facilitative. I congratulate you for your patriotism, your hard work and your dedication,” Gordon said.
“I think we are short in giving you more funds…If there is anything we can do in adding more funds for having a periscope in the mind and having communications capability to train our ambassadors on the very important software of skills that will make him more effective, we are at your disposal,” he added.
The proposed budget covers the operations expenses of the DFA and its attached agencies; education allowance of officials and employees assigned to various foreign service posts, as well as their children; assistance to nationals abroad; legal assistance for nationals abroad; and systems improvement, among others.