Envoy to China confirmed by CA
Marvin Sy (The Philippine Star) - December 20, 2012 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Newly appointed Ambassador to China Erlinda Basilio breezed through the Commission on Appointments (CA) yesterday along with five other ambassadors and a commissioner of the Civil Service Commission (CSC).

Basilio’s confirmation came without any opposition and any questions from the members of the foreign affairs committee of the CA chaired by Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago.

The ease with which Basilio went through her confirmation hearing was similar to that of her predecessor Sonia Brady, who also breezed through her own hearing last May.

Basilio was appointed by President Aquino as ambassador to China after Brady was forced to retire for health reasons.

A career foreign service officer, Basilio served for 43 years in the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) until she reached the mandatory retirement age of 65 in 2009.

Basilio’s term was extended by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo during which she was appointed as the country’s permanent ambassador to the United Nations Office in Geneva.

Basilio said she was retained by President Aquino as undersecretary for policy of the DFA upon the recommendation of former Secretary of Foreign Affairs Alberto Romulo.

There was an element of urgency in the appointment of an ambassador to China after the untimely departure of Brady because of the still unresolved territorial claims between the two countries in the West Philippine Sea.

Chinese vessels occupied the area of the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, which the Philippines claims as its own.

The Chinese side became more aggressive and its shipping vessels were accompanied by military vessels, raising a howl from the Philippine side.

A withdrawal of vessels from both sides led to an easing of tensions but China maintained its claim on the territory in spite of the protests of the Philippine government.

Basilio said she received instructions from the President to continue defending the position of the country in accordance with law.

“I will follow the law. Everything that I do will be in accordance with law. The Philippine and the Chinese governments have their respective plans of action and I will closely monitor all of this in order to further strengthen the political, economic, cultural and social relations with China,” Basilio said.

She described the relations between the two countries as generally good and refused to say that this has been strained due to the territorial disputes.

Basilio said the way she would proceed dealing with the dispute is to treat this separately from the other aspects of the bilateral relations with China.

“Relations are not strained. There is no problem except that they were taking what was ours. And what they did with Bajo de Masinloc, that is a violation of our sovereignty because that is ours,” she said.

Basilio said she would also be preparing for two events, namely the year of friendly exchanges between the Philippines and China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations-China Expo next year where the Philippines will be the country of honor.

“It is my job to bring the two countries closer. Because they are our neighbor. But of course, we have to defend our sovereignty,” she said.

Apart from Basilio, the CA also confirmed the appointments of ambassador to the ASEAN Elizabeth Buensuceso; ambassador to Myanmar Alex Chua; ambassador to Bahrain Sahid Glang; ambassador to Pakistan Domingo Lucenario; ambassador to Kenya and permanent representative to the United Nations Environmental Program Lamberto Monsanto; and Foreign Service Officer Class 1 Leandro Lachica.

Also confirmed was the appointment of Robert Martinez as CSC commissioner.

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