A former political envoy and a businessman have been nominated by President Rodrigo Duterte to serve as the country’s new ambassadors to the United Kingdom and Brunei, replacing career diplomats whose tours of duty haven’t ended in those countries, it was learned Friday.
Antonio Lagdameo, who previously served as ambassador to Spain and the UK under then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, will be returning as Manila’s envoy to London while businessman James Lao has been recommended for Brunei.
Their appointments have already been submitted for confirmation to the bicameral Commission on Appointments (CA), a legislative body that approves assignments and promotions of the military, government and career officials, and political appointees. It was received by the CA on Aug. 23, according to the commission’s website.
The posts given to Lagdameo and Lao, however, are currently occupied by career diplomats – Evan Garcia in London and Meynard Montealegre in Brunei, whose tours of duty have not ran out, government sources pointed out.
Garcia, former Foreign Undersecretary for Policy, has barely warmed his seat as envoy to London, having been assigned there during former President Benigno Aquino III’s time last May. Montealegre, on the other hand, still has one more year to go before he is recalled to the Home Office in Manila.
Removing them from their posts prematurely is considered by some diplomats as impractical and costly since they would have to be relocated to new posts, the sources said.
Garcia was removed from the post in favor of Lagdameo since he has not yet presented his credentials to Queen Elizabeth II at the Buckingham Palace in London, sources said.
According to diplomatic protocol, ambassadors can not be officially recognized as their country’s representative until their credentials have been formally presented in person and accepted by the host government.
It remains unclear where Garcia and Montealegre would be assigned.
“That’s the question,” the sources said. “There are no new assignments for them yet.”
Philippine presidents have the privilege to assign diplomatic posts to non-career personalities as long as the designations will not exceed the number of appointees mandated by law or outnumber career Foreign Service diplomats.
Republic Act No. 7157 or the Philippine Foreign Service Act allots 51 percent of diplomatic positions to career officers and 49 percent to political envoys. —Source: RSJ, GMA News