Department of Foreign Affairs

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Department of Foreign Affairs
Kagawaran ng Ugnayang Panlabas
DFA Seal.png
Established June 23, 1898
Secretary Albert F. Del Rosario
Budget P10.9 billion (2012)

The Philippines' Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) (Filipino: Kagawaran ng Ugnayang Panlabas) is the executive department of the Philippine government tasked to contribute to the enhancement of national security and the protection of the territorial integrity and national sovereignty, to participate in the national endeavor of sustaining development and enhancing the Philippines' competitive edge, to protect the rights and promote the welfare of Filipinos overseas and to mobilize them as partners in national development, to project a positive image of the Philippines, and to increase international understanding of Philippine culture for mutually beneficial relations with other countries.




The Department of Foreign Affairs was created on 23 June 1898 through a decree by Emilio Aguinaldo, who appointed Apolinario Mabini as the Philippines’s first Secretary of Foreign Affairs. In effect, the DFA became the first government department to be established following the proclamation of the First Philippine Republic in Malolos City in Bulacan.

Realizing the need for international recognition to support the legitimacy of his government, Aguinaldo assigned Mabini the difficult task of establishing diplomatic relations with friendly countries. Members of the Hong Kong Junta, a group of Filipino exiles in Hong Kong, served as the country’s envoys for this purpose.

Post-War Philippines

During the period when the Philippines was a colony of the United States, the government did not take an active role in the crafting and execution of its foreign policy. This was also the case during Japan's occupation of the Philippines from 1942 to 1944. The country regained full control of foreign affairs and diplomatic matters on 04 July 1946, when Commonwealth Act No. 732 was passed, creating the Department of Foreign Affairs. On 16 September, President Manuel Roxas issued Executive Order No. 18, which provided for the organization and operation of the DFA and the Foreign Service. The main tasks of the DFA then were to assist in postwar rehabilitation, formulate policies for the promotion of investment, and re-establish diplomatic relations with neighboring countries.

The DFA also proposed amendments to the Bell Trade Act, the RP-US Mutual Defense Treaty, and the Laurel-Langley Agreement with the United States, which helped strengthened trade and military relations with the US, and at the same time initiated the Philippines into the arena of independent foreign policy.

The DFA had its heyday during the post-war years, with its increased participation in the international arena. At that time, the international environment was beginning to change, requiring that new thrusts and priorities in Philippine foreign policy be determined. During the Cold War, against the backdrop of the Korean War in 1950 and the rising communism in China, the Philippines projected an increasing internationalist foreign policy. The Philippines helped forge the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade or GATT in 1949. The country also became a founding member of the United Nations and one of the drafters of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and was among the early proponents of disarmament and non-interference in the internal affairs of free peoples. The Philippines' greater participation in global matters culminated in Carlos P. Romulo’s election as the first Asian President of the UN General Assembly in 1952.

Realizing the importance of foreign relations, President Elpidio Quirino pushed for the passage of the Foreign Service Law in June 1952, as embodied in Republic Act (RA) No. 708. During the post-war period, the Department of Foreign Affairs focused on institution-building, while simultaneously increasing Philippine global exposure. In 1953, Secretary Raul S. Manglapus instituted the Foreign Service Officers examination to professionalize the Foreign Service and improve the recruitment and selection of new FSOs.

The Marcos Years

President Ferdinand Marcos redefined foreign policy as "the protection of Philippine independence, territorial integrity and national dignity", and emphasized increased regional cooperation and collaboration. He placed great stress on being Asian and pursued a policy of constructive unity and co-existence with other Asian states, regardless of ideological differences.

In 1967, the Philippines launched a new initiative to form a regional association with other Southeast Asian countries called the Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN. It was also during this period that the Philippines established its economic and diplomatic ties with socialist countries such as China and the USSR, which Marcos visited in 1975 and 1976, respectively. The Philippines also opened embassies in the eastern bloc countries, and a separate mission to the European Common Market in Brussels.

Throughout the 1970s, the DFA pursued the promotion of trade and investment, played an active role in hosting international meetings, and participated in the meetings of the Non-Aligned Movement. Meanwhile, the Foreign Service Institute was created in 1976 to provide in-house training to Foreign Service personnel.

Post-EDSA 1986

The 1986 EDSA Revolution saw the re-establishment of a democratic government under President Corazon Aquino. During this period, the DFA once again pursued development policy, in the active pursuit abroad for opportunities in the vital areas of trade, investment, finance, technology and aid. The DFA also revived its efforts to boost the Philippines' role in the Asia-Pacific region.

During this period, the Philippines became one of the founding members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation or APEC in November 1989. The country also became an active player in regional efforts to establish the ASEAN Free Trade Area. In 1990, the DFA proposed the establishment of more diplomatic missions to the Middle East to improve its existing ties with Arab states and to respond to the growing needs of Overseas Filipino Workers in the region.

In 1991, the senate, heeding the growing nationalist sentiments among the public, voted against the extension of the Military Bases Agreement. This symbolized the severance of the political and ideological ties which had long linked the country to the United States. Also in 1991, President Aquino signed into law R.A. 7157, otherwise known as the New Foreign Service Law, which reorganized and strengthened the Foreign Service. It instituted a Career Minister Eligibility Examination as a requirement for promotion of FSOs to the rank of Minister Counselor, thereby ensuring the professional selection of those who would eventually rise to the level of career ambassadors.

Under Fidel V. Ramos

The Ramos administration from July 1992 to June 1998 defined four core areas of Philippine foreign policy: the enhancement of national security, promotion of economic diplomacy, protection of Overseas Filipino Workers and Filipino nationals abroad, and the projection of a good international image of the country.

The Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995 provided the framework for stronger protection of Filipino workers abroad, with the creation of the Legal Assistance Fund and the Assistance to Nationals Fund, as well as the designation in the DFA of a Legal Assistant for Migrant Workers’ Affairs, with the rank of Undersecretary.

Among the other significant events in foreign affairs during the Ramos years was the Philippine-initiated 1992 ASEAN adoption of the Declaration on the South China Sea, aimed at confidence-building and avoidance of conflict among claimant states. There was also the establishment of the Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines (BIMP)-East Asia Growth area in 1994; the establishment of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in 1994 as the only multilateral security dialogue in the Asia-Pacific region conducted at the government level; and the signing of the Mindanao Peace Agreement between the Philippine Government and the MNLF on 02 September 1996.

The Estrada Administration

The Estrada administration upheld the foreign policy thrusts of the previous administration, focusing on national security, economic diplomacy, assistance to nationals, and image-building. The Philippines continued to be at the forefront of the regional and multilateral arena. It successfully hosted the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in July 1998 and undertook confidence-building measures with China over the South China Sea issue through a meeting held in March 1999. President Estrada strengthened bilateral ties with neighboring countries, with visits to Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, and South Korea.

The DFA also played a major role in the forging of a Visiting Forces Agreement with the United States, which was ratified in the Senate. The country also sent a delegation of 108 observers to the Indonesian parliamentary elections and engaged in cooperative activities in the areas of security, defense, economy, culture, combating transnational crimes, and protecting OFWs and Filipinos abroad.

Under Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

At the beginning of her term in 2001, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, pursued foreign policy based on nine facts:

First, the dynamics of relations between China, Japan and the United States determine the security situation and economic evolution of East Asia.

Second, Philippine foreign policy decisions are increasingly being made in the context of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Third, Europe will continue to play a significant role in promoting international prosperity and stability.

Fourth, the international Islamic community remains crucial to the country's search for lasting and permanent peace in Mindanao.

Fifth, inter-regional organizations will become increasingly influential in the global context.

Sixth, the protection of the environment, natural resources and maritime territory.

Seventh, the drive for foreign markets and foreign direct investments will form a focal concern of economic diplomacy efforts.

Eighth, international tourism will be a major driver of national growth.

Ninth, overseas Filipinos play a critical role in the country's economic and social stability.

Functions and Responsibilities

The objectives of the Department of Foreign Affairs are as follows:

  • To aid in the enhancement of national security and the protection of the territorial integrity and national sovereignty
  • To participate in sustaining development and enhancing the Philippines' competitive edge in a global milieu
  • To protect the rights and promote the welfare of Filipinos overseas and to mobilize them as partners in national development
  • To present a good image of the Philippines;
  • To further enhance the international understanding of Philippine culture for mutually-beneficial relations with other countries
  • To increase and maximize human, financial, technological and other resources in order to optimize the performance of the Department

Philippine Foreign Policy

See DFA's detailed Foreign Policy.

List of Secretaries/Ministers of Foreign Affairs

Name Term of Office President(s) Served Under
Apolinario Mabini 18981900 Emilio Aguinaldo
Elpidio Quirino 1946 – 1948 Manuel Roxas
Joaquin Miguel Elizalde 1948 – 1950 Elpidio Quirino
Carlos P. Romulo 1950 – 1952 Elpidio Quirino
Joaquin Miguel Elizalde 1952 – 1953 Elpidio Quirino
Carlos P. Garcia 19531957 Ramon Magsaysay
Felixberto M. Serrano 19571961 Carlos P. Garcia
Emmanuel Pelaez 1961 – 1963 Diosdado Macapagal
Salvador P. Lopez 1963 Diosdado Macapagal
Carlos P. Romulo 1963 – 1964 Diosdado Macapagal
Mauro Mendez 1964 – 1965 Diosdado Macapagal
Narciso Ramos 1965 – 1968 Ferdinand E. Marcos
Carlos P. Romulo 1968 – 1984 Ferdinand E. Marcos
Manuel Collantes* 1984 Ferdinand E. Marcos
Arturo M. Tolentino 1984 – 1985 Ferdinand E. Marcos
Pacifico A. Castro* 1985 – 1986 Ferdinand E. Marcos
Salvador Laurel 19861987 Corazon Aquino
Manuel Yan 1987 Corazon Aquino
Raul S. Manglapus 1987 – 1992 Corazon Aquino
Roberto Romulo 1992 – 1995 Fidel V. Ramos
Domingo Siazon 19952001 Fidel V. Ramos, Joseph Estrada
Teofisto Guingona 20012002 Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo 2002 In concurrent capacity as President
Blas Ople 20022003 Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
Franklin Ebdalin* 2003 Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo 2003 In concurrent capacity as President
Delia Albert 2003 – 2004 Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
Alberto Romulo 2004 – 2011 Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
Albert F. Del Rosario 2011 – Present Benigno S. Aquino III

(*) Acting Capacity

List of Philippine embassies

Countries highlighted in bold mean that the said mission is located within their territory.

Country Location Ambassador<ref>Philippine Embassies. Department of Foreign Affairs. Retrieved on 16 October 2010.</ref>
Flag of Argentina Argentina
Flag of Bolivia Bolivia
Template:Country data Paraguay
Flag of Uruguay Uruguay
Buenos Aires Rey A. Carandang
Flag of Australia Australia
Template:Country data Nauru
Template:Country data Tuvalu
Template:Country data Vanuatu
Canberra Belen F. Anota
Template:Country data Austria
Flag of Croatia Croatia
Flag of Slovakia Slovakia
Flag of Slovenia Slovenia
Vienna Lourdes O. Yparraguirre
Flag of Bahrain Bahrain Manama Sahid S. Glang Chargé d' Affaires, a.i.
Flag of Bangladesh Bangladesh
Flag of Sri Lanka Sri Lanka
Flag of Maldives Maldives
Dhaka Bahnarim A. Guinomla
Flag of Belgium Belgium
Template:Country data European Union
Template:Country data Luxembourg
Brussels Victoria S. Bataclan
Flag of Brazil Brazil
Flag of Colombia Colombia
Flag of Guyana Guyana
Template:Country data Suriname
Brasilia Eva G. Betita
Flag of Brunei Brunei Bandar Seri Begawan Nestor Z. Ochoa
Flag of Cambodia Cambodia Phnom Penh Noe A. Wong
Flag of Canada Canada Ottawa Leslie B. Gatan
Flag of Chile Chile
Template:Country data Peru
Flag of Ecuador Ecuador
Santiago Ma. Consuelo Puyat-Reyes
Flag of People's Republic of China China
Flag of Hong Kong Hong Kong
Flag of Macau Macau
Flag of Mongolia Mongolia
Flag of North Korea North Korea
Beijing Sonia C. Brady
Template:Country data Cuba
Flag of the Dominican Republic Dominican Republic
Template:Country data Haiti
Flag of Jamaica Jamaica
Havana Wilfredo D.L. Maximo
Flag of Czech Republic Czech Republic Prague Evelyn D. Austria-Garcia
Flag of Egypt Egypt
Template:Country data Djibouti
Template:Country data Eritrea
Template:Country data Ethiopia
Template:Country data South Sudan
Template:Country data Sudan
Cairo Claro S. Cristobal
Flag of Finland Finland Helsinki Blesila Cabrera, Chargé d' Affaires, a.i.
Flag of France France
Template:Country data Monaco
Paris Cristina G. Ortega
Flag of Germany Germany Berlin Ma. Cleofe R. Natividad
Flag of Greece Greece
Flag of Cyprus Cyprus
Template:Country data Macedonia
Athens Meynardo L.B. Montealegre
Flag of Hungary Hungary
Template:Country data Bosnia and Herzegovina
Template:Country data Montenegro
Flag of Serbia Serbia
Budapest Eleanor L. Jaucian
Flag of India India
Flag of Nepal Nepal
New Delhi Ma. Agnes V. Cervantes Chargé d' Affaires, a.i.
Flag of Indonesia Indonesia Jakarta Ma. Rosario C. Aguinaldo
Flag of Iran Iran Tehran Mariano A. Dumia, Chargé d' Affaires, a.i.
Flag of Iraq Iraq Baghdad (main)
Marlowe A. Miranda, Chargé d' Affaires, a.i.
Flag of Republic of Ireland Ireland Dublin Ariel Y. Abadilla
Flag of Israel Israel Tel-Aviv Generoso D.G. Calonge
Flag of Italy Italy
Flag of Albania Albania
Rome Virgilio A. Reyes
Flag of Japan Japan Tokyo Manuel M. Lopez
Flag of Jordan Jordan Amman Olivia V. Palala
Flag of Kenya Kenya
Template:Country data Burundi
Template:Country data Comoros
Template:Country data Democratic Republic of the Congo
Template:Country data Madagascar
Template:Country data Malawi
Flag of Mauritius Mauritius
Template:Country data Republic of the Congo
Template:Country data Rwanda
Template:Country data Seychelles
Template:Country data Somalia
Flag of Tanzania Tanzania
Template:Country data Uganda
Nairobi Domingo D. Lucenario, Jr.
Flag of Kuwait Kuwait Kuwait City Shulan O. Primavera
Flag of Laos Laos Vientiane Ma. Lumen B. Isleta
Flag of Lebanon Lebanon Beirut Leah B. Ruiz
Template:Country data Libya
Template:Country data Malta
Tripoli Oscar G. Orcine
Flag of Malaysia Malaysia Kuala Lumpur Jose Eduardo E. Malaya III
Flag of Mexico Mexico
Template:Country data Belize
Flag of Costa Rica Costa Rica
Flag of El Salvador El Salvador
Flag of Guatemala Guatemala
Template:Country data Honduras
Template:Country data Nicaragua
Flag of Panama Panama
Mexico City George B. Reyes
Flag of Myanmar Myanmar Yangon Ma. Hellen Barber - Dela Vega
Flag of the Netherlands Netherlands The Hague Lourdes G. Morales
Flag of New Zealand New Zealand
Template:Country data Fiji
Template:Country data Samoa
Template:Country data Tonga
Wellington Virginia H. Benavidez
Template:Country data Nigeria
Template:Country data Benin
Template:Country data Burkina Faso
Flag of Cameroon Cameroon
Template:Country data Cape Verde
Template:Country data Central African Republic
Template:Country data Côte d'Ivoire
Template:Country data Equatorial Guinea
Template:Country data Gabon
Template:Country data Gambia
Flag of Ghana Ghana
Template:Country data Guinea
Template:Country data Guinea-Bissau
Template:Country data Liberia
Template:Country data São Tomé and Príncipe
Template:Country data Senegal
Template:Country data Sierra Leone
Template:Country data Togo
Abuja Alex Lamadrid
Flag of Norway Norway
Flag of Denmark Denmark
Template:Country data Iceland
Oslo Bayani S. Mercado
Flag of Oman Oman Muscat Joselito A. Jimeno
Flag of Pakistan Pakistan
Flag of Afghanistan Afghanistan
Flag of Kazakhstan Kazakhstan
Flag of Kyrgyzstan Kyrgyzstan
Flag of Tajikistan Tajikistan
Islamabad Jesus I. Yabes
Template:Country data Papua New Guinea
Template:Country data Kiribati
Template:Country data Solomon Islands
Hohola Bienvenido V. Tejano
Flag of Poland Poland Warsaw Indhira C. Bañares, Chargé d'Affaires, a.i.
Template:Country data Portugal Lisbon Josefina I. Estrada, Chargé d'Affaires
Flag of Qatar Qatar Doha Crescente R. Relacion
Flag of Romania Romania
Flag of Bulgaria Bulgaria
Flag of Moldova Moldova
Bucharest Maria Fe T. Pangilinan, Chargé d' Affaires, a.i.
Flag of Russia Russia
Flag of Armenia Armenia
Flag of Belarus Belarus
Flag of Turkmenistan Turkmenistan
Flag of Ukraine Ukraine
Flag of Uzbekistan Uzbekistan
Moscow Alejandro B. Mosquera
Flag of Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia
Flag of Yemen Yemen
Riyadh Ezzedin H. Tago
Flag of Singapore Singapore Singapore City Minda Calaguian-Cruz
Flag of South Africa South Africa
Flag of Angola Angola
Template:Country data Botswana
Template:Country data Lesotho
Template:Country data Mozambique
Flag of Namibia Namibia
Template:Country data Swaziland
Flag of Zambia Zambia
Flag of Zimbabwe Zimbabwe
Pretoria Constancio R. Vingno, Jr.
Flag of South Korea South Korea Seoul Luis T. Cruz
Flag of Spain Spain
Template:Country data Andorra
Template:Country data Morocco
Madrid Carlos C. Salinas
Flag of Sweden Sweden
Flag of Estonia Estonia
Template:Country data Latvia
Flag of Lithuania Lithuania
Stockholm Maria Zeneida Angara-Collinson
Flag of Switzerland Switzerland
Template:Country data Liechtenstein
Bern Leslie J. Baja
Flag of Syria Syria Damascus Wilfredo R. Cuyugan
Template:Country data Timor Leste Dili Ma. Aniceta Aileen H. Bugarin
Flag of Thailand Thailand Bangkok Linglingay F. Lacanlale
Flag of Turkey Turkey
Flag of Azerbaijan Azerbaijan
Flag of Georgia (country) Georgia
Ankara Marilyn J. Alarilla
Flag of United Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates Abu Dhabi Grace R. Princesa
Flag of the United Kingdom United Kingdom London Enrique A. Manalo
Template:Country data United Nations New York City Libran N. Cabactulan
Flag of the United States United States
Template:Country data U.S. Virgin Islands
Template:Country data Grenada
Template:Country data Puerto Rico
Washington, D.C. Jose L. Cuisia, Jr.
Template:Country data Vatican City
Template:Country data Sovereign Military Order of Malta
Rome Mercedes Reinares-Arrastia Tuazon
Template:Country data Venezuela Caracas Jocelyn Batoon-Garcia
Flag of Vietnam Vietnam Hanoi Jerril G. Santos


External links