1st woman DFA secretary named
- Marvin Sy , Marichu A. Villanueva () - December 23, 2003 - 12:00am
President Arroyo appointed yesterday the country’s first female foreign affairs secretary: career diplomat Delia Domingo Albert, who has served the foreign office for 36 years.

Albert’s appointment was announced by Executive Secretary Alberto Romulo at the Palace yesterday during the last Cabinet meeting for the year.

Albert was at the Palace to attend her first Cabinet meeting but her appointment has yet to be confirmed by the Commission on Appointments since Congress had already recessed for the holidays starting Dec. 18.

She is the seventh woman in President Arroyo’s 22-member Cabinet.

The six others are Budget Secretary Emilia Boncodin, Labor Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas, Science and Technology Secretary Estrella Alabastro, Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Elisea Gozon, Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman and Finance Secretary Juanita Amatong.

Albert, 61, was undersecretary for international economic relations and senior official for the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) before she was named to the Cabinet post left vacant by the death of Secretary Blas Ople last Dec. 14.

The new foreign secretary was in fact attending an APEC ministerial meeting in Chile when she learned that Ople had died in Taiwan enroute from Japan to join Mrs. Arroyo in her official visit to Bahrain.

She returned to the country on Dec. 18 and immediately proceeded to Ople’s wake where she wept as she related in an interview anecdotes about Ople whom she described as a "great statesman."

According to Ople’s daughter Susan, who was her father’s executive assistant at the DFA, Ople himself held Albert in "high esteem" and that the Ople family was gratified that Albert expressed her intention to continue Ople’s reforms at the foreign office.

"It’s a daunting task but we shall continue the legacy of the secretary," Albert herself told journalists at the DFA.

The senior diplomat has served the country in various capacities around the world, including postings in Switzerland, Romania, Hungary, East and West Germany, Nauru, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Australia, where she became dean of the diplomatic corps in 2001.

She served as director-general of the Philippine secretariat of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and was deeply involved in various ASEAN meetings and APEC summits, including the 1994 fourth APEC Leaders’ Summit at Subic whose secretariat she led.

Her successful assignment to Germany earned her that country’s Knight’s Commanders Cross of the Order of Merit with the Star in 1992.

Albert speaks seven languages: German, French, Romanian, Spanish, Japanese, English and Filipino.

She attended the University of the Philippines, Institute for International Studies in Geneva, Switzerland, Diplomatic Institute in Salzburg, Austria, Boston University Overseas in Bonn, Germany and Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government in New Haven, Massachusetts.

A native of Baguio City, Albert is married to Hans Albert with whom she has a daughter, Joy Angelika.

ALBERT ASIA-PACIFIC ECONOMIC CONFERENCE ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS BAGUIO CITY BOSTON UNIVERSITY OVERSEAS BUDGET SECRETARY EMILIA BONCODIN COMMANDERS CROSS OF THE ORDER OF MERIT DELIA DOMINGO ALBERT OPLE PRESIDENT ARROYO SECRETARY
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