DFA recalled Syria envoy due to lack of expertise-A A +A
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
THE Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Tuesday clarified that the recall of Syrian Ambassador Wilfredo Cuyugan is solely because of the repatriation program currently being enforced in the tension-gripped country, and not because of politics.
“Because we are on repatriation mode, [Foreign Affairs] Secretary Albert del Rosario has decided to replace Ambassador Wilfredo Cuyugan with an operative and with an extensive experience in repatriation, Charge d’Affaires Ricardo Endaya,” DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez said in a text message.
Cuyugan is a career ambassador and will remain as chief of mission on floating status pending his new assignment from DFA senior officials.
On Monday, Cuyugan confirmed that he was relieved of his envoy duties and was being recalled at the department’s main office in Pasay City.
The recall order, supposedly issued last week, stemmed from the alleged differences in the assessment of security situation in Syria between Cuyugan and his superiors.
The department has recently raised alert level 3 in the entire of Syria even amid Cuyugan protesting that there was no actual threat of violence in the country, especially in Daraa and Homs where chaos was initially reported.
But Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Migrant Affairs Esteban Conejos, who came from a three-day visit to Syria, maintained that there were “undercurrents” of violence in the country, noting several military outposts that allegedly created security tension.
The Philippine government has also activated its repatriation program with already 12 Filipinos arriving in Manila last week.
It is expected that more Filipinos will be arriving in the country as a result of the repatriation program.
Earlier, the Philippine embassy in Damascus reported that some 108 exit visas for Filipinos have already been processed by the Syrian government.
Even the DFA, however, was quick to admit that most of the repatriates availed of the program because of labor-related problems and not because of the perceived volatile situation there.
Out of the 17,000 Filipinos in Syria, the department said that about 90 percent of them are illegal and undocumented migrants. (BCVB/Sunnex)