THE director of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) 7 for the last three years has been appointed as legal attache of the Philippine Permanent Mission to the United Nations (UN) in New York.
Lawyer Anika Apalisok-Fernandez said she is preparing for her departure for the US tomorrow to report to her new job.
Fernandez was appointed by then DFA secretary Albert del Rosario last Feb. 29.
Her job for the next six years is to safeguard the interest of the Philippines in all relevant legal matters before the UN, including but not limited to counter-terrorism, international courts and tribunals.
Fernandez said there are no listed qualifications for the job.
The permanent representative of the Philippines to the UN chooses the people to represent the Philippine Government, and he/she considers the entire body of work as a foreign service staff officer.
Prior to this assignment, Fernandez worked for the DFA Office of Legal Affairs, then the Office of the Undersecretary for Administration. In 2007, Fernandez was legal attache to the Embassy of the Philippines in Paris, France.
In 2013, when her tour of duty ended, she was assigned as director of DFA Cebu until last July 4, when she was replaced by Emmanuel Espineli.
When asked about the relevance of her position, she said this is her first multilateral assignment, so she will need to get the hang of it.
“But I am very excited to immerse myself in foreign policy issues. I will be working side by side with the permanent representative and the rest of the Philippine Mission to the UN,” Fernandez said.
“The work we do is collective effort in the service of the country,” she said.
On her stint in Cebu, she said it was the hardest because aside from local challenges she had to grapple with disaster work after the earthquake and typhoon Yolanda that struck the region in latter part of 2013.
“We had to diversify our work with the limited resources that we had. We needed to assist consular clients when DFA Tacloban had to close because of the typhoon. At the same time, we had to facilitate the delivery of international donations (water-filtration systems, medicine, among others) to affected areas,” Fernandez said.
She said her her two years and 10 months in Cebu taught her to be patient and to make sacrifices. But it was all worth it.
Fernandez, daughter of veteran radio personality and Coop TV host Malou Guanzon-Apalisok, thanked the Cebu media for supporting her during her stint at DFA Cebu, especially in disseminating to the public about their policies on passport processing.
Apalisok, for her part, said she is happy and proud of her daughter but mostly grateful for her professional achievements.
“My advice to her is to continue to study and work hard at the same time absorb all the good that New York City has to offer,” Apalisok said.
Last June 23, Fernandez was among the diplomats which was conferred with the Gawad Mabini Award by then president Benigno Aquino III for rendering distinguished service or for promoting the interest and prestige of the Philippines abroad.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 15, 2016.
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