De Lima supports call for Cayetano’s resignation

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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has expressed support to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) career officers’ call for Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano’s resignation for his incompetence that led to the diplomatic row between the Philippines and Kuwait.

De Lima, a known human rights defender, said she believes the Kuwait fiasco is the “wake-up call” that roused the career officials of the DFA to take immediate action to salvage the good bilateral relations between the two countries.

“The action is unprecedented. This is probably the first time in the country’s history that the foreign service officers of the DFA called for the resignation of the Foreign Affairs Secretary,” she said in her Dispatch from Crame No. 298.

“It appears that the DFA’s career officers decided that the Kuwait fiasco was the last straw, and that they were no longer willing to stand by idly on the sidelines while the institution they serve be disgraced before the international diplomatic community,” she added.

Last May 2, a letter from members of the Philippine diplomatic corps was reportedly released to the media where they called on Cayetano to resign in order to save the Philippine foreign service from further international embarrassment.

“Cayetano’s amateurism and inexperience threaten to jeopardize the welfare of 230,000 Filipino workers in Kuwait,” they said.

The rescue of distressed Filipino workers reportedly angered Kuwait, prompting the Kuwaiti authorities to declare Philippine Ambassador Renato Villa as persona non grata.

De Lima said Cayetano should listen to the DFA career officers and take heed of their call, noting how the Kuwait fiasco proved that he was not perfect fit for the DFA Secretary post.

“Cayetano started out at the DFA as a dilettante in a field ruled by career diplomats with years of international exposure. This newbie status is not easily overcome by a few months of traipsing around the world and attending cocktail events,” she said.

“Diplomacy demands more skills. And it appears that despite several months of being DFA Secretary and trying to be the Philippines’ top diplomat to the world, Cayetano just really doesn’t have what it takes to be one,” she added.

Before assuming the post of Foreign Affairs Secretary, Cayetano was a lawyer and a politician without any professional training and experience relative to leading the country’s foreign service.

The former justice secretary said it is high time for Cayetano to surrender his DFA post to someone “more capable and deserving.”

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