In line with the celebration of 4th Philippine Foreign Relations (PFR) Week, the second year International Studies students of Ateneo de Davao University organized a forum, the 4th PFR Celebration: Current Challenges of Philippine Foreign Policy at Finster Auditorium last Friday, August 23.
Hon. Charles C. Jose, the Assistant Secretary of the Public Information Services Unit of Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) was the main speaker of the program. He emphasized the nature of the work of the officers.
“Our foreign service officers are expected to be always on call and provide round the clock systems to our ‘kababayans’, that is why the DFA is called the ‘department that never sleeps’,” he said.
He mentioned that the department does not only issue passports or attend to our OFW’s abroad.
“The DFA is mandated to promote the interest of the Filipino nation in the world community. This nebulous concept of a national interest is at the heart of our foreign policy,” Jose added.
He also talked about how they conduct their foreign policy, what their priorities are, and how they contribute to nation building. Moreover, the heart of his discussion moved towards the current challenge of the Philippines on its claim of the territory of the West Philippine Sea. China also raised their claim on the territories, making the situation a tug–of-war battle.
“The Philippines is pursuing a clear resolution in the maritime dispute through arbitration. We believe that the arbitration award will clarify the maritime entitlements including those of China, which will be the basis for the settlement of maritime disputes,” Jose elaborated in informing the audience of the department’s move over the issue.
Students from other schools who were able to attend the event expressed their positive comments.
“It was a good event. I’ve learned a lot especially on the role of the DFA, because actually, the only role that I know that DFA does is [handling] the passport and other things,” said Joyce Hyacinth, a student from Mindanao Kokusai Daigaku.
Edmark Vincent Racho, a student of Holy Cross of Davao College, shared his learnings from the forum. “Basically, the presentation was informative, in the sense that they were able to craft new faces of learning from the presentation. We also found out that the foreign policy of the Philippines is consistent with the provisions of the constitution adhering to its independence. However, we are still in struggle, particularly the pressing issues that the Philippine state is facing today such as the dispute over Scarborough Shoal and some other topics included during the presentation,” Racho said.
Jose ended his speech by imposing a challenge and an invitation to the audience which was mostly composed of students.
“I therefore challenge each and every one of you to take part in promoting Philippine Foreign Policy; join the DFA,” he said.