MANILA -- The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) may have to shut down some of its embassies and consulates in order to save money, Senator Franklin Drilon said Wednesday.

Drilon, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has tasked the DFA with reviewing its 67 embassies, 23 consulates, and four missions around the world to find out which ones can be abandoned.

He said the presence of Philippine embassies and consulates may not be justified in countries where there are few Filipinos and trade is "not substantial”.

The senator cited Philippine embassies in Romania, Hungary, and Poland with a combined number of 792 Filipinos. Total trade with the three countries is valued at just P5.46 billion.

Trade with Singapore meanwhile stands at P268.2 billion.

“We are not a rich country that can just keep on opening embassies all over the place,” Drilon said.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo has said that his department is "certainly willing to review the criteria for all this”.

The DFA budget for 2011 will be 13 percent lower than its current budget of P12.74 billion. It spends from P57 million to P125 million a year to maintain an embassy abroad. (Jonathan de Santos/Sunnex)