July 13, 2005 · Posted in: In the News

UNIFORS: No such letter

THE Association of Foreign Service Officers (UNIFORS), through its secretary Eduardo V. Aro, said it has not written any letter to Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo questioning the legitimacy of the Arroyo presidency.

Aro, who is posted in The Hague, Netherlands, said the letter sender had used the organization’s name "for a purpose that is not sanctioned by our organization’s Constitution and By-laws." 

Aro’s letter in full:

In your Inside PCIJ: Stories behind our stories, you have posted an article “RP diplomats raise howl.”  The story is based on an unsigned and anonymous letter to the President dated 11 July 2005 that claims to have come from our organization, the Association of Foreign Service Officers (UNIFORS).

As the Secretary of our organization, I wish to point out that it is the practice of our members to identify themselves by name in any public declaration on any issue.  The person extensively quoted in Ms. Del Callar’s story used the name of UNIFORS without identifying himself.  He released his letter to the public and to the media without benefit of discussion among our members.  He used an e-mail address that he only recently set up in circulating his letter, whereas our members have been using an e-mail group address since October of 2003.

It is obvious that this unknown letter writer, who has deviously appropriated the name of our organization, is using the name of our organization for a purpose that is not sanctioned by our organization’s Constitution and By-laws.  He does not even have the courage of his conviction to identify himself but instead sought protection under the name of our organization.

I would like to request your publication to stop using  unsigned anonymous declarations being made in the name  of UNIFORS.

Very truly yours,

Eduardo V. Aro
Secretary of UNIFORS
Career Minister, Philippine Embassy, The Hague,


98 Responses to UNIFORS: No such letter



July 13th, 2005 at 10:52 pm




July 13th, 2005 at 11:07 pm

Oh my goodness.

PCIJ, why didn’t you verify this?



July 13th, 2005 at 11:56 pm

at the height of the oust erap calls in 2000-2001 the unifors issued an unsigned statement denouncing the estrada administration.
the people behind that statement also did not identify themselves.
so why is mr. eduardo aro, secretary of unifors, questioning the credbility and integrity of the people behind the unifors letter denouncing alleged orders by the department of foreign affairs for philippine embassies and consulates to secure declarations of support for mrs. arroyo from overseas filipinos?



July 14th, 2005 at 12:01 am

saka eto pa. the letter sender/s only wanted the foreign service to be apolitical. siguro divided ang unifors sa issue. yung mga hindi nag-agree dun sa letter, yun siguro ang mga maaapektuhan once mapatalsik si gloria sa pwesto.



July 14th, 2005 at 12:12 am

seems like there are two groups representing the Foreign Service Officers … Union of Filipino Foreign Service Officers and Union of Foreign Service Officers (UNIFORS)

like the nation … the foreign service corps is divided



July 14th, 2005 at 12:15 am

Obviously, there is more than one Unifors. Thank you Dora for pointing that out.
I guess an unsigned statement denouncing the Estrada administration is okay but an unsigned statement denouncing Mrs Arroyo is not. Siguro dapat alisin ang UNI sa Unifors,



July 14th, 2005 at 12:20 am

Takot talaga yang mga members ng unifors na resbakan sila ng DFA or ni GMA. takot sila na ma-jeopardize ang career nila sa foreign service.



July 14th, 2005 at 12:20 am

oh i see. maybe members not officers wrote that letter.



July 14th, 2005 at 12:51 am

sana magkaisa na ang unifors. whatever their stand may be, at least unified sila.



July 14th, 2005 at 12:59 am

noelet, like what i said earlier its too political a statement to be true. its good i dont have a lynch mob mentality and use logic to dictate my actions.



July 14th, 2005 at 1:08 am

jonathan, porke ba’t may political overtones ang statement ng unifors e it should not be taken seriously?



July 14th, 2005 at 4:23 am

personally, i believe pcij as unbiased in disseminating information to the public. nevertheless, this incident is a good reminder of its responsibility to its reader.



July 14th, 2005 at 9:38 am

Why dont we separate the career employees from the appointed?



July 14th, 2005 at 10:09 am

There is only one UNIFORS–the Association (Union) of Foreign Service Officers which is registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. We should distinguish the genuine UNIFORS from the so-called Union of Filipino Foreign Service Officers which should more aptly be called UNIFARCE.

Being career civil servants, members of UNIFORS, who include chiefs of missions, career ministers and foreign service officers assigned at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila and the various Philippine foreign service posts abroad, have maintained their neutrality and have no intention of taking part in the ongoing political debate.

UNIFORS has nothing to do with the letters that have been circulated by whoever is behind UNIFARCE and its members remain true to their pledge of loyalty to the Republic. The UNIFARCE letters do not reflect the sentiments of the career foreign service officers corps.



July 14th, 2005 at 10:52 am


I was not in Manila during People Power II but I was told by fellow FSOs who were there, including those who went to EDSA after office hours, that UNIFORS was never able to issue a statement at that time. UNIFORS did try to come out with a statement but it never had the opportunity to release it because it was overtaken by events. The military defected and the Estrada Administration collapsed.

Who are the people behind the so-called Union of Filipino Foreign Service Officers? No one seems to know. Why would we as career foreign service officers not question the legitimacy of this group that claims to speak on our behalf when it deliberately tried to mislead the public by usurping the name UNIFORS? For all we know this/these person/persons behind this group may not even be from the Department but is/are part of a group that is conspiring to bring down the duly constituted authority. Whoever was behind this is a good propagandist and psywar expert. That I can be sure of.

You may not be aware of it but the position of the group I call UNIFARCE was never the subject of a debate among the members of the career corps. It took everyone by surprise because it was just emailed to the various offices at the DFA and most of the Philippine foreign service posts.

It is really deplorable that certain parties would use the career foreign service corps to advance their own political agenda.



July 14th, 2005 at 12:35 pm

FSO3, baka yung miyembo ng UNIFACE na sinasabi mo e mga sarili mo ing mga kasamahan na di masikmura ang kalaaran sa DFA ngayon.
So neutral kayo ngayon? Nung 2001 nakialam kayo sa oust earap calls. apolitical nba talaga kayo o hindi? tueing kailan ba kayo masasalita? Pag inaadvance nyo na sarili nyong interest?



July 14th, 2005 at 1:01 pm

I agree with what Dora has to say. FSO3’s attitude is probably the reason for this new group’s existence. The letter below was sent out by the DFA guerilla group in response to Mr Aro’s disclaimer. (I have contacts there) Judge for yourself which type of foreign service employee you want – the FSO3 or the guerillas

Dear Minister Aro,

You would not have had to write such a strong disclaimer if not for the fact that you were suspected by Arroyo loyalists in the DFA of being the author of the so-called letters. You had to clear your name, so to speak. So, by your own actions you have provided the reason why our site became necessary. The other Unifors site exposes us to reprisals by Arroyo loyalists.

In addition, we deliberately ignored the other website because we suspected, and now you have confirmed, that you will not allow your site to be used for frank and open discussions about Mrs Arroyo.

There are as many Unifors members and even more regular employees of the DFA who became disgusted with Mrs Arroyo after they heard the Garci tapes. Our alternate site allows for a venting of that disgust.

The battle lines are drawn between those who want to serve the public and those who want to serve Mrs Arroyo. Mr Aro, you have made your choice. We hope you can live with it.

You accuse us of “usurping the name of our organization for the patently partisan political objective of contributing to efforts of political opposition groups to oust the incumbent President.”

We are not usurping anybody’s private property. The Unifors name belongs to all of us not to any group of officers who have not faced elections since 2001. This new site is open to all DFA employees.

We are not partisans. We are against Mrs Arroyo and we have stated our reasons why. We have also said we do not belong nor do we endorse any opposition groups. We are only asking for Mrs Arroyo’s resignation because we find it difficult to serve under someone who confessed to being the voice on the Garci tapes.

The question for you, Mr Aro, is – why do you continue to support and, by defaming us, endorse the incumbency of Mrs Arroyo ? Do you feel comfortable even proud to serve under someone like her?

Mr Aro, you can keep your Yahoo site and we will keep ours. You can write, discuss and debate all the reasons why you believe Mrs Arroyo is the best thing since sliced bread and we will discuss and debate why she is as difficult to stomach as stale bread.

As to the perennial problems of the DFA. Are you saying Mrs Arroyo could have done nothing about them? We were criticizing why she did not do anything about them and also why she aggravated the problem by appointing incompetent political ambassadors, extending the terms of retirees and shuffling career ambassadors to accomodate political appointees. We blame Mrs Arroyo for not doing anything about the perennial problems of the DFA because the buck stops with her. Do you think someone else is responsible for the sordid state of affairs in our department?

Finally, you said, “Before 2001, UNIFORS was organizationally inactive for a number of years. I mention all this because of the peculiar nature of UNIFORS as an organization or a non-organization. It apparently springs back to life, phoenix-like, when the Foreign Service is faced with a challenge or a threat or an opportunity. This is apparently such a time.”

Exactly. And this time Unifors sprang back to life in another site because under the present Unifors leadership it was good as dead.

But it’s not too late to change your mind and join us. You were suspected by Arroyo loyalists as the anonymous letter writer because you have a reputation as an independent thinker. That reputation is something to be proud of. Don’t destroy it.

Our door is open to all.



July 14th, 2005 at 1:45 pm

One thing is for sure. This “show of support” by officials within and (sigh) outside the country is draining the government’s budget for travel expenses faster that scheduled, tsk, tsk, tsk.


The Stinger Speaks

July 14th, 2005 at 3:45 pm

Oh subtlestrike, whatever are those travel expenses you talk about?

These foreign service officers have measly salaries and just-adequate allowances while they are posted abroad. Many of them, I heard, would be grinning if they had travel expenses and its concomitant US$ 100 daily per diems instead of the allowances. In the end, these career diplomats are simply overseas Filipino workers in another guise. But instead of getting to hang out and have fun with other overseas Filipinos on weekends, these diplomats remain on-call, beyond hours, 24/7. They keep alert for the next Filipino criminal case, the next domestic battery issue, the next diplomatic emergency … while still being able to keep a smile for “bilateral” meetings between government officials, foreign trade missions, tourism events, and community activities. All these and not even a tax-break to raise their spirits.

Now if that ain’t public service, I don’t know what is.



July 14th, 2005 at 3:53 pm

To subtlestrike:

Not only the “show of support” by officials. Also the “show of opposition.”

To Dora and Buencamino:

1. You wrote – …that you will not allow your site to be used for frank and open discussions about Mrs Arroyo

My reply – ask the permission of the other members first. If not at most, at least, have the decency to do that. You sent the letter on behalf of uniforce. I think you (or even your bloc) are the only members?

2. You wrote – We are not usurping anybody’s private property. The Unifors name belongs to all of us not to any group of officers who have not faced elections since 2001. This new site is open to all DFA employees.

My Reply – if Unifors is an organization (surmising that it is, since it has a set of officers and other attributes of an organization) and you are claiming that you are a member, then you might not be usurping its name at all. You are misrepresenting it, though. You admitted that it does not belong to any group, but why are you imposing what you want it to do and what it want, as an organization, to say? If you want a site for Socratic discussions and the other members of the organization do not want the existing site to be the venue of such discussions, then open one. Minister Aro and his company IS NOT Unifors, inasmuch as you and your “guerillas are not.” Why not call yourselves Multiforce? (Better than the name Uniforce which is not Uni, apparently, or even “Multifarce” which is pejorative).

3. You wrote – The battle lines are drawn between those who want to serve the public and those who want to serve Mrs Arroyo. Mr Aro, you have made your choice. We hope you can live with it.

My reply – divisive and false logic. How presumptuous of you to define the battlelines! I wouldn’t consider those personalities I see who are, at present, anti-Arroyo, to be “serving the public.” One mayor is a known cheater in the last elections (who has yet to explain where he got the money for his ranches in Batangas, Villas in Tagaytay. He sided with FPJ hoping that the plunder charge against him would be dismissed); Tax-evading actors/actresses and businessmen; human rights violators; Jueteng payola former beneficiaries…et alii.

Are you so blinded with your anti-GMA stance that you don’t see the point at all? It is not between “those who want to serve the public and those who want to serve Mrs. Arroyo.” There is no iota of vindication for Erap. IF the chismis and popular belief against PGMA are true, THEN ALL OF THEM BELONG TO THE SAME CATEGORY! PGMA IS NO DIFFERENT THAN THEM! I wonder how you, with your personality-centric outlook, can live with this. (This is independent thinking?)

Do not give too much credit (or discredit) to PGMA for all of the mess we are having, including this crisis. The burden of examining one’s conscience is not only for her who, by popular belief, has committed an act of indiscretion (which she already admitted) and fraud (which she continues to deny). The burden should also be borne by those who committed the same indiscretion and fraud.

In writing its letter, the CBCP was reminded by that event in the scriptures when a mob was about to stone a woman of ill-repute. Christ knew that it was not about a simplistic case of punishment, for those who seek her punishment are not guileless (who knows, they might even contributed one way or another to her ruin) themselves. It’s about the the much larger problem of sin-whose persistence guarantees that the stonings will never cease long after the woman has been stoned to death. The mob might have all the good intentions for arguing for the truth, but truth said with bad intent is no different or lie exempt.

I reserve my contempt for Unifors for condoning (if it did) the same misrepresentation of the organization during the same public trial of Estrada; much as I also train the same contempt for Estrada’s political allies who, by their seeming lack of transparency, ensured that he will have his day in court, but as a prejudged former president. But Unifors’s action in the past should not be construed as a reason to inflict the same act of misjudgement.

And before the buck stops with Mrs. Arroyo (or this Mayor, or Erap, even Marcos) have you asked what did you do? As I see it now, only the true leftists have the political highground to call themselves the real opposition. They who have made the more painful sacrifice in terms of lost loved ones, youth, and even respect for the betrayal of their own political leadership. Do not lump them so conveniently with the group who “serve the public.” They are forcing Mrs. Arroyo to resign. Then, they will turn against the others who are not their own kind and breed.



July 14th, 2005 at 6:25 pm


It has come to our attention that several letters commenting about the present political situation in the Philippines and purportedly coming from the Union of Filipino Foreign Service Officers or UNIFORS have been distributed to the various Philippine Foreign Service Posts, the Home Office, and the Diplomatic Press Corps.

We, the legitimate members of the Union of Foreign Service Officers of the Republic of the Philippines (UNIFORS), deplore the usurpation by the so-called Union of Filipino Foreign Service Officers of the name UNIFORS. We disassociate ourselves from the said letters and stress that UNIFORS will not allow itself to be used for partisan politics, nor will it be part of any efforts to destabilize or undermine the duly constituted authority.

We, the Chiefs of Missions, Career Ministers and Foreign Service Officers assigned in the Home Office and Foreign Service Posts abroad who make up the membership of UNIFORS, denounce the letters that have been circulated by the so-called Union of Filipino Foreign Service Officers as brazenly partisan, politically self-serving, destructive to the national interest and cowardly.

We wish to stress that those behind the so-called Union of Filipino Foreign Service Officers have not even bothered to indicate their identities, a practice that UNIFORS abhors, especially when making an official stand or statement on an issue. The members of UNIFORS do not hide behind the cloak of anonymity. Any and all statements coming from UNIFORS are first proposed to and screened by each individual member before being approved and signed accordingly.

We challenge those behind the so-called Union of Filipino Foreign Service Officers to sign their names and openly declare their views in public. We challenge them to prove their legitimate claim to the title of UNIFORS.

As career Foreign Service Officers, our loyalty lies with the Republic, the Flag and the Constitution. We shall continue to serve our country as befitting career civil servants who have pledged their commitment to protect the integrity and sovereignty of the Republic of the Philippines.

Mabuhay ang Republika ng Pilipinas!

Career Minister & Secretary of the Association of Foreign Service Officers of the Republic of the Philippines (UNIFORS)



July 14th, 2005 at 10:38 pm

Statement of Foreign Service Officers of the Department of Foreign

We, the undersigned Foreign Service Officers of the Department of
Foreign Affairs (DFA), express our concern over the circulation of
several unsigned statements/letters written on behalf of Foreign
Service Officers on recent political developments in the country.

The statements, purportedly written by a so-called `Union of
Filipino Foreign Service Officers,’ are misleading and

We raise the following points:

1. We question the identities of those circulating these
statements and deny any involvement in this attempt to discredit the
President on behalf of the corps of Foreign Service Officers. As far
as we know, the Union of Filipino Foreign Service Officers does not
exist and must be distinguished from the Union of Foreign Service
Officers or UNIFORS, which is the legitimate organization of Foreign
Service Officers. We ask the people behind these statements to stop
using the name of the Foreign Service Officers’ corps.

2. The foreign service is composed of professional and
patriotic individuals who will not allow their ranks to be divided
and the institutional integrity of the corps to be compromised by
vested interests and partisan politics.

3. We question the intent of the statements which cite the
problems of the DFA as basis for calling on the President to
resign. While some of the issues raised in the statements may be
legitimate grievances specific to the DFA, we believe there is a
proper forum and time for addressing these concerns.

4. We believe that we should focus our efforts on the higher
good and national interest.

5. We affix our signatures herewith and enjoin our colleagues
to sign up and clear the name of the Foreign Service Officers corps.

13 July 2005, Manila

SIGNATORIES (as of 13 July 2005)

Mr. Pedro O. Chan, CM II
Mr. Bayani V. Mangibin, CM II
Mr. Alejandro A. Vicente, CM II
Mr. Domingo L. Lucenario, Career Minister
Mr. J. Eduardo Malaya, Career Minister
Mr. Charles C. Jose, Career Minister
Mr. Alex V. Lamadrid, Career Minister
Mr. Laureano C. Santiago, Career Minister
Mr. Neal Imperial, FSO I
Ms. Ma. Teresa T. Almojuela, FSO I
Mr. Christopher B. Montero, FSO I
Ms. Ma. Lourdes B. Montero, FSO I
Ms. Shirley E. Banquicio, FSO I
Ms. Kira Christianne R. Danganan, FSO I
Ms. Ma. Josefina Ceballos, FSO I
Ms. Mary Anne Padua, FSO I
Mr. Francisco Noel R. Fernandez, FSO I
Ms. Bernadette Therese C. Fernandez, FSO I
Mr. Ronell B. Santos, FSO I
Mr. Daniel R. Espiritu, FSO I
Ms. Maria Andrelita S. Austria, FSO I
Mr. Alfonso A. Ver, FSO I
Ms. Bernardita L. Catalla, FSO I
Mr. Marcos A.S. Punsalang, FSO I
Ms. Rosario P. Lemque, FSO I
Mr. Adelio Angelito S. Cruz, FSO II
Mr. Paul Raymund Cortes, FSO II
Mr. Arvin R. de Leon, FSO II
Ms. Myca Fischer, FSO III
Mr. J. Anthony A. Reyes, FSO IV
Mr. Jesus Enrique G. Garcia, FSO IV
Ms. Bernadette A. Mendoza, FSO IV
Ms. Leilani S. Feliciano, FSO IV
Mr. Robert E.A. Borje, FSO IV
Ms. Leah Victoria C. Rodriguez, FSO IV
Mr. Ambrosio Brian F. Enciso III, FSO IV
Mr. Arnel G. Talisayon, FSO IV
Mr. Angelito A. Nayan, FSO IV
Mr. Gonaranao B. Musor, FSO IV
Ms. Lovelia C. Laping, FSO IV
Ms. Charmaine A. Serna, FSO IV
Ms. Sharon R. Rivera, FSO IV
Ms. Edna May Grecia-Lazaro, FSO IV
Mr. Hans Mahaimin L. Siriban, FSO IV
Ms. Catherine Rose Torres, FSO IV
Mr. Jeffrey P. Salik, FSO IV
Ms. Lenna Eilleen C. de Dios, FSO IV
Ms. Ednalyn E. Barleta, FSO IV
Mr. Arman R. Talbo, FSO IV
Ms. Christina Gracia V. Rola, FSO IV
Mr. Eric R. Aquino, FSO IV
Mr. Ruel U. Gunabe, FSO IV
Ms. Katrina Isabelle H. Borja, FSO IV
Ms. Maria Paz G. Cortez, FSO IV



July 15th, 2005 at 12:01 am

first and foremost, let me state for the record that the union of filipino foreign service officers is not the association of foreign service officers (which has the sec approved accronym: unifors). yes, the unifors is a registered association in the sec.
second, contrary to what dora has stated, the unifors DID NOT come out with any written statement during the edsa II campaign precisely because we were overtaken by events. a letter was being drafted at that time, but consultations between and among the officers who are posted abroad and those who were in the home office took time (quite a lot of time, actually) hence, no written statement was issued. but when it was being drafted, we (those who have been consulted and agreed to the draft text) SIGNED our names to it and never hid behind the anonymity of the organization’s name. i would suggest that you, dora, verify your facts first before writing. i know all this because i was the one who drafted that letter, which unfortunately never got out. contrary again to what dora stated, the draft letter was indeed “apolitical”. it supported the call to respect the rule of law and to end corruption in the government. it did not call on then president estrada to step down because that would be truly partisan.
which is why we, the members of unifors, deplore the acts and the letters done by the union of filipino foreign service officers. the letters were obviously partisan AND cowardly. the union of filipino foreign service officers are all hiding behind the name of unifors, not wanting to name themselves, so that when crunch time comes, those cowards can just sit quietly and watch the heads of all those who are true members of unifors get chopped off. the union of filipino foreign service officers do not want to take responsibility for their actions. sila, dora, ang takot maresbakan ng arroyo government or ng dfa at sila ang takot na ma-jeopardize ang career nila. that is why they don’t want to give their names.
third, not simply any dfa employee or officer can be a member of the association of foreign service officers or unifors just by saying that he or she is a member. there are administrative rules to be followed. did they fill up a membership form? did they pay their membership dues? did they take their oaths? i have the list. and that list has been steadily growing since we resurrected the unifors in 2001. we have sent membership forms to all posts and to all officers. it is not a compulsory membership, but it is restricted to career foreign service officers (chiefs of mission, career ministers and foreign service officers). if this guerilla group is representing the dfa employees and officers, again, a process has to be followed. we have a number of personnel organizations in the dfa: the dfa personnel association (dfapa) (may membership dues din yan), the dfa rank and file association (dfarfa) which is also sec registered, the dfa multi-purpose cooperative (dfampci) (may subscription naman ito), and we even have the dfa ambassadors association, the retired ambassadors association, the dfa ladies foundation, the dfa chorale and the dfa golf association. if the guerilla group wants to represent the dfa employees and officers, they should first and foremost choose a new name, identify themselves and speak for their own association. so, contrary to the group which buenconsejo is representing (or the group that he is shepherding…it being such a big cowardly group and couldn’t even put their names on their guerilla group), the association of foreign service officers has the proprietary right to the name UNIFORS, and it is the one repesenting the career foreign service officers of the dfa. unless i see your name on the list (which means that i WILL NOT SEE IT considering that you will definitely not give it) you simply cannot use the name unifors.
– emma sarne



July 15th, 2005 at 12:20 am




July 15th, 2005 at 12:45 am

Hey Emma! How is New York? Mukhang strong pa rin ang support ng FS corps kay GMA ah.



July 15th, 2005 at 3:15 am

emma sarne,

the letter you drafted during edsa dos was leaked to the media by your own colleagues. ask your colleagues kung sino sa kanila ang nag-leak.

tama si Ink dapat multifors ang tawag sa inyo. Iisang organisasyon kayo pero di kayo magkasundo. Yung iba kelangan pa magtago under the name Union of Filipino Foreign Service Officers which the others prefer to call UNIFARCE.

Yung ibang members niyo sabi okay lang daw ginagawa ng UNIFARCE. They’re free to air their grievances daw. now, whether the manner in which they aired these grievances is wrong e problema niyo na yan. di kayo magkasundo talaga eh.

Siguro ikaw and your colleagues are brave and are not the kind to hide behind the cloak of anonymity. I commend you for that. Pero you can’t deny na may members ng UNIFORS ang agree sa letter ng UNIFARCE pero ayaw makiisa openly kasi natatakot din mapag-initan. I can’t blame them.

saka you said the UNIFORS letter you drafted didn’t call fo erap’s resignation because that would be partisan pero bakit may mga members kayo na sumali pa sa oust erap rally? i don’t want to name them na lang but they’re very brave to do that considering na dapat apolitical kayo.

I have nothing against the UNIFORS and the UNIFARCE. Based on the letter posted by manuel buencamino, I believe pareho-pareho kayong career diplomats and members ng UNIFORS. Yun nga lang ang iba sa inyo chose to stay neutral and remain silent in the face of the crisis gripping the nation while the others chose to make their voices heard though in a manner that most of you do not agree.

ngayon nagsasagutan ang mga maka-UNIFORS at maka-UNIFARCE
dito. you’re washing your dirty linen in public. it’s degrading to the foreign service corps of which all of you are members.

Sana matigil na yan. Pinagpipiyestahan na kayo ng media e. Mag-usap usap na lang kayo.

I wish the Philippine foreign service corps all the best.



July 15th, 2005 at 3:41 am


re: open letter from unifors.

“We, the legitimate members of the Union of Foreign Service Officers of the Republic of the Philippines (UNIFORS), deplore the usurpation by the so-called Union of Filipino Foreign Service Officers of the name UNIFORS. We disassociate ourselves from the said letters and stress that UNIFORS will not allow itself to be used for partisan politics, nor will it be part of any efforts to destabilize or undermine the duly constituted authority.”

–may rule ba kayo na dapat i-boot out ang members na partisan like those who openly joined the oust erap campaign in 2001? is it possible that the members can openly engage in partisan politics as long as they do it on their own and not use the name of unifors?



July 15th, 2005 at 7:02 am



I would like to commend the Corps of Philippine Foreign Service Officers, Staff Officers and Staff Employees for responding with utmost professionalism and patriotism to my earlier call for the exercise of sobriety and democratic maturity in the face of the recent political events. I would also like to welcome the decision of a growing number of FSOs to disassociate the Foreign Service Officers Corps from the spurious emailed statements purporting to represent the views of the FSO Corps.

We are all civil servants committed to follow and defend the Constitution of the Philippines. And as we approach the commemoration of our Department’s 107th Founding Anniversary, let us call to mind the oath taken by Foreign Service Officers, Foreign Service Staff Officers and Foreign Service Staff Employees when each of you assumed your respective assignments:

“…na tutuparin ko nang buong husay at katapatan, sa abot ng aking kakayahan, ang mga tungkulin ng aking kasalukuyang katungkulan at ng mga iba pang maaari kong gagampanan sa ilalim ng Republika ng Pilipinas; na aking itataguyod at ipagtatangol ang Saligang-Batas ng Pilipinas; na tunay akong mananalig at tatalima rito; na susundin ko ang mga batas, mga kautusang legal, at mga dekretong pinaiiral ng mga sadyang itinakdang maykapangyarihan ng Republika ng Pilipinas; at kusa kong babalikatin ang pananagutang ito, ng walang anumang pasabali o hangaring umiwas.”
Upholding this oath is what has kept the DFA’s institutional integrity as the prime promoter of the Foreign Policy of the Republic of the Philippines all these years.
As Secretary of Foreign Affairs, I am privileged to have as colleagues a Foreign Service Corps that remains committed to serve the Philippine Constitution and the duly constituted authorities of the Nation.

The commitment and dedication of the Corps are challenged by several unsigned statements now circulating in the internet that convey personal comments on the current political debate. In response to these letters, I am pleased to note the signed statement issued yesterday by 54 Foreign Service Officers currently in the DFA Home Office, who questioned the intent of the so-called “Union of Filipino Foreign Service Officers” in using the corps of Foreign Service Officers to discredit the President of the Philippines. It would serve the interest of the Filipino People to heed the call of the 54 FSOs to “focus our efforts on the higher good and national interest” and to let the current issues be resolved through the Constitutional process and forum.

I also welcome the fact that more FSOs continue to sign this statement.

As we all eagerly await the resolution of the current political issues confronting our Nation, I enjoin the Foreign Service Corps to continue vigorously pursuing, both at the Home Office and in the Foreign Service Posts, the promotion of Philippine Foreign Policy particularly the interest of the Nation and the Filipino People in the international community.



July 15th, 2005 at 11:39 am

Hello, Ma’am Yvonne! Remember me? I used to work for you under the Diliman Info Office when it was still in the College of Masscomm in UP Diliman. I see that you’ve been keeping busy with the PCIJ.

Thank you very much for printing my dad’s letter. This is why I respect the PCIJ a lot: it provides a balanced analysis into any issue, and is not afraid to maintain that balance, regardless of the political situation.

If I were any of the readers of PCIJ’s blogs or reports, I would be conscientious enough not to give credit to unsigned letters.

Has any of the members of the Union of Filipino Foreign Service Officer (that doesn’t even spell UNIFORS! Sobra ng isang “F”) ever come out in the open yet? They claim to be officers and employees of the Department, and yet they still haven’t identified themselves.

You claim that we, the legitimate members of UNIFORS, are being pro-GMA, and that we are doing so because we are afraid to lose our stature in the eyes of the current administration. Even granting that we are being pro-GMA, (which we never stated in the first place), I think that fear is what YOU the members of unifors.org (I hereby dub you UNIFAKERS) are feeling right now. You’re afraid to post your real identities precisely because you are afraid to be openly branded Anti-GMA. So much for freedom of expression eh?

I repeat: the people behind unifors.org are COWARDS.

But be cowards all you like. The Constitution does not penalize cowardice…yet. Just don’t use the legitmate name of UNIFORS as your cover. Register a new name. And sign up some real members while you’re at it.

Christopher Aro
Third Secretary and Vice Consul
Vientiane PE



July 15th, 2005 at 11:59 am

Oh and Dora? Get a life. You stay up too late reading blogs.



July 15th, 2005 at 12:14 pm

ok na sana shinbrouken. statesmanlike na sana kaso why the personal hit. if she wants to stay up late, let her. what is it to you?



July 15th, 2005 at 12:37 pm

Sorry. Couldn’t help it. If ever naging personal ako, it was only to counter-balance her own.

Thanks for reminding me not to get personal. I hope Dora gets the message too.



July 15th, 2005 at 12:44 pm

and your stock has just been restored by your last message. nice going.

you know what. it’s different for you because you’ve identified yourself as being in the foreign service. now you have to be put against a different/higher standard from us “normal” people. personal hits are not expected from and are beyond members of the elite foreign service. but you’re coming clean is admirable. so let’s move on.



July 15th, 2005 at 1:03 pm

by the way, if members of the foreign service have listened to the tapes and still believe in gma, i wouldnt want these people to represent me abroad. that shows a lack of intellectual capacity and/or honesty and a lack of moral integrity. sayang taxes na binabayad ko.



July 15th, 2005 at 1:06 pm

Thanks for the compliment Masha

Before I break for lunch I would just like to clarify a few things.

We in the Foreign Service are no different from “normal” people. We eat, we sleep, we hurt, and we die just like anybody else.

We also recognize that we work in a democracy, where freedom of expression is a driving force. UNIFORS recognizes this. It respects the dissenting opinions of its members. That is why we seek the approval of the members first, before coming out with an official stand. And even then, only those who are willing to sign the statement are asked to sign these statements. Nobody is forced to.

What we do not condone is misrepresentation.

If unifors.org really are UNIFORS members, then why hide it? Woudn’t it lend more credence to your stand if you affix your names onto your statements? Why the need for secrecy?

We have an active e-group where UNIFORS members both from the Home Office in Manila and from the different foreign service postings all around the world are in constant contact with each other. We share our views and are not afraid to provide dissenting opinions to each other. And we properly identify ourselves when doing so.

All this time that we have been managing the e-group, we have not heard from anyone who has aired the stand being espoused by unifors.org. Should you wish to do so, you are most welcome to. Just provide me with your name, rank in the DFA, and e-mail address and I will include you in the mailing list.

Let us try to be constructive in our opinions for the sake of our country.

Mabuhay and Pilipinas!



July 15th, 2005 at 1:11 pm


We pay taxes too. And like most government employees, automatic ang kaltas sa amin. I want my taxes to go for the betterment of our country too.



July 15th, 2005 at 1:37 pm

it’s heartening to know that then. i just hope that no a*s kissing is going on there; that all who work there have the country’s interest in mind and not one’s career advancement.



July 15th, 2005 at 2:12 pm

TO INK and everyone else.

I am not a member of UNIFORS. I am a writer who contributes articles to Business World’s Yellow Pad and Malaya. I used to writes regular articles for Today but it was sold to Manila Standard and my articles do not fit their editorial policy of kissing Mrs Arroyo’s ass.

The letter I posted was sent by the other UNIFORS. I did not write it. I posted it because they needed a forum to air their side. As far as I am concerned, they can all go to hell although I would reserve the lower circles of hell for those belonging to the Arroyo UNIFORS.



July 15th, 2005 at 2:34 pm

To FSO2 and the signatories of the Statement,

Please satisfy my curiosity. I read your “Statement of Foreign Service Officers of the Department of Foreign Affairs”.

You raised four points :
1. you question the identity of the guerillas
2. you say you are patriotic and don’t want to be involved in partisan politics
3. you question their intent
4. you say you want to focus on the higher good and the national interest

I want to know a couple of things you studiously avoided in your well crafted letter –

1. Are you giving your whole hearted support to ensuring that Mrs Arroyo completes her term ? Or are you supporting the Constitution but not Mrs Arroyo?

2. Are you approaching the Garci tapes issue as a purely legal problem or do you think there are moral issues involved as well ?

Answering my two questions individually with your names not withheld would also make things clearer for the fence sitters in your department.

Please make your individual and group position clear because it is the only thing I can see that is separaing you from the guerillas and dividing your ranks.



July 15th, 2005 at 3:17 pm

And you Mr. Buencamino, can you answer the following as well please?

1) Are you supporting your so-called “guerillas” because you espouse the same viewpoint?; or

2) You are simply anti-government regardless of who sits in Malacanang?

3) Finally, what is your alternative? What do you have to offer me, a career Foreign Service Officer loyal to the Republic, Flag and Constitution, in order to convince me that your way is best for the country?

Do you have a complete blueprint to rehabilitate the government once GMA steps down or is ousted? Do you have a clear cut program to bring back investor confidence in the country? Can you show to us how you’re going to stop corruption once and for all? Can you explain how you’re going to create jobs for all the unemployed? Can you show to us in detail your outline for uplifting the economy and ensuring that no Filipino shall no longer live below the poverty line?

If you can show me these things, and convince me that your platform are plausible alternatives to the present administration, then maybe I’ll consider joining up with you.

And mind you, that is just me. If you want the rest of the Foreign Service Corps to join you, you should be able to convince them as well.

Good Luck.



July 15th, 2005 at 3:23 pm


From Ellen Tordesillas;

Storm in DFA’s genteel world

AN on-line war among foreign service officers is raging, sparked by a letter to Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo from a group who called themselves Union of Filipino Foreign Service Officers or UNIFORS where they asked “to put an end to the peregrinations of Undersecretary Jose Brillantes to different countries shamelessly soliciting declarations of support from Filipino communities for Mrs. Arroyo’s fading presidency.”

The letter, which bore no signatories, said “His (Brillantes) efforts are not only costly, needless and embarrassing. They are also in vain because very few Filipinos, if any, take these statements seriously.”

Unifors also appealed to Romulo “not to misinterpret the statements of foreign governments calling for respect for the rule of law in the impending regime change in our country. You have misled our people by claiming these declarations are endorsements of Mrs. Arroyo’s administration when we, the professionals, know otherwise.

“Now that the Arroyo regime is in its death throes, we urge you to consider your job as merely one of care and maintenance of the Foreign Service and not of a presidency viewed by the overwhelming majority of our people as fake and illegitimate.” They gave their e-mail address: mail@unifors.org

The day the letter was published, DFA’s reaction was to find out the people behind the letter. Of course, nobody came forward.

I covered the DFA for many years and I know foreign service officers have a good grasp of the political situation.. They can give in-depth background briefing but they cannot be quoted. That’s how foreign service officers operate. That’s the culture of diplomacy.

Eduardo Aro, consul general of the Embassy in The Hague and UNIFORS secretary, came out with a disclaimer saying that UNIFORS is Union of Foreign Service Officers of the Republic of the Philippines (UNIFORS), without the word “Filipino”.

Aro deplored the usurpation of the UNIFORS name and denounced the letter as “brazenly partisan, politically self-serving, destructive to the national interest and cowardly.”

Nine officials of the Philippine mission to the United Nations issued a statement denouncing the UNIFORS (with Filipino) letter as “deceptive and does not reflect the sentiments of the career foreign service corps.”

The signatories were led by Ambassador Lauro Baja, balae (in-law) of former Sen. Robert Barbers, who figured prominently in the wiretapped conversation with former Comelec Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano.

In his letter to newspaper editors, Aro said, the person who misused the UNIFORS “used an e-mail address that he only recently opened in circulating his letter, whereas our members have been using an e-mail group address since October of 2003.”

In the PCIJ blog (www.pcij.org/blog), where the exchanges on the UNIFORS letters are lively, Manuel Buencamino posted yesterday an intriguing letter to Aro by UNIFORS (with Filipino). It said, “You would not have had to write such a strong disclaimer if not for the fact that you were suspected by Arroyo loyalists in the DFA of being the author of the so-called letters. You had to clear your name, so to speak. So, by your own actions you have provided the reason why our site became necessary. The other Unifors site exposes us to reprisals by Arroyo loyalists.”

On Aro’s accusation that the UNIFORS (with Filipino) usurped the organization’s name for a “patently partisan political objective”, the letter said: “We are not usurping anybody’s private property. The Unifors name belongs to all of us not to any group of officers who have not faced elections since 2001. This new site is open to all DFA employees.”

The letter continued: “There are as many UNIFORS members and even more regular employees of the DFA who became disgusted with Mrs. Arroyo after they heard the Garci tapes. Our alternate site allows for a venting of that disgust.”

Reflecting the division among foreign service officers, just like in the church, business community and academe, the letter said: “The battle lines are drawn between those who want to serve the public and those who want to serve Mrs. Arroyo. Mr. Aro, you have made your choice. We hope you can live with it.”

If that’s not enough, there’s another letter of support for Arroyo being circulated to foreign service officers for signature by Ambassador to Kuwait Bayani Mangibin ( a known protégé of House Speaker Jose de Venecia), Pete Chan, executive director of Office for Migrant Workers, and Al Vicente of the Office for Strategic Policy Planning and Coordination. This is tantamount to a loyalty check.

The trip of Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Jose Brillantes to the Middle East and Asean neighbors, referred to in the UNIFORS letter of denunciation, is being talked about in the DFA. They said in Riyadh and Kuala Lumpur, the dinners for the Filipino community were held at the embassy. Guests and embassy staff were asked to sign a manifesto supporting Arroyo.

Brillantes denied to diplomatic reporters that he was soliciting declarations of support for the beleaguered Arroyo.

I would not put so much value on Brillantes’ denial. When Robert Tarongoy, the Davao accountant who was hostaged in Iraq and was released after Malacañang paid $1.4 million in a vain attempt to divert the headlines from the Garci tapes, Brillantes denied the ransom payment. He denounced the report saying those who are saying that government paid ransom for Tarongoy are endangering the more than 6,000 Filipinos in Iraq.

Yet, when Undersecretary for Communications Susan Ople recommended to Arroyo that Foreign Undersecretary Rafael Seguis, who headed the crisis team to recover Tarongoy, be given an award, Brillantes complained, a Malacañang source said.

Brillantes, who headed the crisis team to free Filipino United Nations worker Angelito Nayan who was kidnapped in Afghanistan, argued, “Why? We didn’t pay for Nayan and we got no award. In Tarongoy’s case they paid.”

There’s a saying that you catch a fish by its mouth.



July 15th, 2005 at 6:29 pm


“And you Mr. Buencamino, can you answer the following as well please?”

1) “Are you supporting your so-called “guerillas” because you espouse the same viewpoint?; “

Answer – Yes. I support their call for Mrs Arroyo to resign.

2) “You are simply anti-government regardless of who sits in Malacanang? “

Answer – No, it matters a lot who sits in Malacanang. I suppported Cory Aquino all the way.

Comment – As a foreign service officer you should know that government and whoever sits in Malacanang are not necessarily one and the same. Don’t you know that we have a form of government composed of three co-equal branches, the idea being a system of checks and balances ? You are talking about a parliamentary form of government. How in god’s name did you pass your fso exams?

3) “Finally, what is your alternative? What do you have to offer me, a career Foreign Service Officer loyal to the Republic, Flag and Constitution, in order to convince me that your way is best for the country? Do you have a complete blueprint to rehabilitate the government once GMA steps down or is ousted? etc.etc.etc. “

Answer –
1) I want GMA to resign and the vice president to succeed her.
2) I don’t have to have a plan because I am not running for president. And why do I have to offer you anything? What do I owe you? You’ve made your choice and I’ve made mine. To me this whole issue is about the moral fitness of Mrs Arroyo to lead and govern. Do you think she is morally fit to lead and govern?
3) GMA chose Noli as her successor so it follows that she had faith in his ability to succeed her. Or did she just make a cynical choice for running mate? She herself chose her alternate. That’s the answer to your “no alternative scenario”.

Now as a diplomat you also need to know about manners. When someone asks you a question, it is impolite to answer with a question. Diplomats are not supposed to behave like smartasses. I overlooked your rudeness and answered your questions. Now go and answer mine. And use your real name, There’s nothing to be ashamed of about supporting Mrs Arroyo. You have a right to stand up for your idol.

Sp pleeez answer –

1. Are you giving your whole hearted support to ensuring that Mrs Arroyo completes her term ? Or are you supporting the Constitution but not Mrs Arroyo?

2. Are you approaching the Garci tapes issue as a purely legal problem or do you think there are moral issues involved as well ?

I await your answers not more questions.



July 16th, 2005 at 12:37 am

you said that a letter from unifors was leaked to the media during the edsa II campaign. this statement is very telling. since unifors was not able to issue a letter (due to the fact that consultations took time), that letter obviously never had the imprimatur of unifors. it was a draft that was being circulated to all officers but somehow was leaked to the media as well. but did the media ever verify the authenticity of the statement? which brings us back to noelet’s first blog on this subject: did pcij verify this statement coming from the union of filipino foreign service officers? or did it simply publish it as something newsworthy, (coming from the very secretive dfa officers) without verifying it first?
i know that media folks have their sources, some of who they trust enough to be labled as credible. but as the saying goes: trust, but verify.



July 16th, 2005 at 1:28 pm

Dear Mr. Buencamino,

We career foreign service officers have made our position clear in the statements that we have posted here–from the open letter which we authorized Minister Ed Aro to issue on our behalf to the manifesto I signed along with our other colleagues in the Home Office and our foreign service posts abroad: We will not allow ourselves to be used for partisan politics, nor will we be part of any effort to destabilize or undermine the duly constituted authority.

We have no quarrel with you. We respect your stand the same way we respect the position of others who may not share your views on the political drama that is unfolding in the Philippines. We wish we could extend the same to those who claim to be our colleagues but whose views differ from most of us. Unfortunately we could not and we would not because by misrepresenting us, they lost whatever respect we could have accorded them.

Having said this, would we be asking too much if we request that you also respect our desire not to get ourselves involved in the ongoing political discussions?



July 16th, 2005 at 1:39 pm

answering mr buencamino’s questions wont make you political. they’re common sensical questions which if answered would in fact show if you truly are apolitical.

but of course it’s your choice whether to answer said questions.

medyo off lang kasi yung kasamahan niyo, kung ayaw niyang sumagot di sana sinabi na lang niyang he prefers not to answer. e kaso ang ginawa niya, instead of defering to answer, siya pa ang nagtanong. so if he expects an answer to his questions then he should also answer the questions of mr buencamino. nag-engage siya kasi.



July 16th, 2005 at 3:42 pm

Dear FSO2,

Slippery as an eel.
Kung ayaw mo sumagot, di huwag.
You would do well to heed masha’s advice



July 16th, 2005 at 4:08 pm




July 17th, 2005 at 1:12 am

I am a career minister assigned abroad. I agree with Manuel Buencamino that the president should either resign or be impeached. I do not rule out a repeat of people power.

I am amused by the constant reference of the Aro father and son team to the cowardice of the renegade Unifors members. They are engaged in insurgency, guerilla warfare, if you will, the same way that the Vietcong resorted and the Palestinians are resorting to guerilla tactics. You cannot call them cowards, can you?

I am likewise amused by Emma’s convoluted explanation of the Unifors statement that never was in 2001. Like she said, the statement was overtaken by events. So it had to be leaked instead by some enterprising FSO. The others simply joined the massive protest action on EDSA. So much for timeliness and relevance. Emma, you remember, of course, that one unidentified FSO sent out an e-mail message to all posts before the last day of the EDSA 2 revolt more or less inciting posts abroad to join in the call for Erap to regisn? So how come the insurgent FSO then was not condemned while the rebels of today are?

Emma, you are assigned in New York. You must have read the letter of the Unifors renegades asking the foreign secretary to force our consul general there to move to more modest quarters. I understand that the Filcom in NY is shocked at the $10,000 monthly rental being paid by our government to house Mrs. Rebong. Could you explain how you in the consulate general defend this unreasonable expenditure of the taxes that Chris Aro and I and the rest of you law-abiding citizens pay?

Our government and the consulate there have a big credibility problem so maybe you can enlighten us a bit on how you are addressing the issue.

By the way, Chris, you are a Foreign Service Officer. I suggest you don’t call Ms. Chua as “Ma’m Yvonne.” It’s too servile and unbecoming of a Philippine diplomat. Being an FSO, talk and write like one. I presume you behave like one.



July 17th, 2005 at 2:06 pm

Ditto, Sil.

It is amazing that an unsigned statement in an email from an account (mail@unifors.org) created only on 06 July 2005 using such an improbable name as “Clarvin Cledshaun” could elicit such a nervous reaction from so-called “seasoned” diplomats. Maybe the DFA cafeteria should cut down on the MSG.

Such a statement need not be dignified by any response, except perhaps one pointing out its questionable origin, which Mr. Aro did in his letter. That would have been sufficient.

That said, those officers, led by Messrs. Chan, Mangibin, and Vicente, who bravely tottered out to make that disclaimer are an embarassment to the foreign service. Apart from the overt hypocrisy, the disclaimer shows only that these officers share something in common with eunuchs.

The foreign service is well aware of its duties and obligations to constitution, to the government, to the Republic and to the Filipino people. As an organization, it is acutely aware of, if not familiar with, its apolitical (or non-political or neutral, whichever you wish) imperatives during a leadership crisis.

However, in the pursuit of their own individual interests, foreign service officers have avidly, if not constantly, propagated a culture of influence (including political patronage) over merit within the organization.

Thank you, Mr. Buencamino, for helping these people find their feet (to put in their mouths) and for placing the issues within perspective.



July 17th, 2005 at 3:08 pm

Forgive me for cross posting this letter reprinted by Mr Farolan of the PDI but the letter writer’s advice to his junior officer may come in handy for those in the DFA who are faced with a similar dilemma

Reveille : A soldier’s dilemma (2)

, July 17, 2005

Ramon J. Farolan
Inquirer News Service

DEAR General Farolan,

A few days ago, one of my junior officers, actually a platoon leader, reported back to duty after going on emergency leave to Pangasinan to look after an ailing mother who had just suffered a stroke. Immediately upon his arrival, he showed me a news clipping with your column “A soldier’s dilemma.” He said that a number of his fellow officers, mostly classmates from the Philippine Military Academy, had discussed the article among themselves and generally agreed that it had put them in a predicament considering what has been taking place in the last few days and the events which led to these developments.

He didn’t ask any questions, but I sensed that he was searching for answers and possibly guidance. As I looked at his young face, full of idealism and a desire to do what is right, I remembered that many years ago I was also faced with a similar situation. By the way, most of my platoon leaders are recent graduates of our alma mater. They are doing a wonderful job and our people can really be proud of them. All the money of the Filipino taxpayer that was invested in their education and training is beginning to pay off. I realize we have suffered serious setbacks in recent years involving junior and senior officers, but as long as we continue to remain focused on bringing up these boys in an environment that stresses service to the nation, we shall prevail in our efforts to professionalize the institution.

So what did I tell my young visitor? I reminded him that we have a chain of command starting from the commander-in-chief to the chief of staff, down to the platoon leader. I also told him that regardless of what our military leaders say, we could never be a truly neutral Armed Forces. We are an instrument of national policy, a policy dictated by the existing government with a chief of staff appointed by this government. This is not to disparage Gen. Efren Abu and the incoming chief of staff, Gen. Generoso Senga. We are fortunate to have them at the helm during these difficult times. Whatever his critics may say of him, Gen. Abu showed great courage in confronting head-on the deadly cancer of “conversion.” To my mind, he is the only chief of staff to formally denounce and stop the practice that has brought so much shame and ignominy to our Armed Forces. Gen. Senga is widely respected, not only in the Army but also in the military organization, and it is comforting to know that he will be moving up to chief of staff next month.

But let me dwell on the so-called “neutrality” of the Armed Forces. Many years ago, it would have been unnecessary to stress this point. It was something our people generally took for granted. However, along the way, events took place in 1972 and the military was called upon to carry out duties and responsibilities other than defending the nation from internal attacks or external aggression. Some people likened the move to toothpaste being squeezed out of a tube. We represented the toothpaste that could never again be returned to its container [once,] with just the slightest pressure by the hand on the tube, [squeezed] out in measured amounts.

Since then, our politicians have used us for their own agenda. One glaring abuse of this political power is the revolving door policy with respect to the term of our chief of staff. We will soon have seven chiefs for the four years of the present government. How can we develop the professionalism needed for an apolitical Armed Forces when leadership is in constant flux, depending on the needs of the Palace?

Today, every election has its share of military interventionists. Our political system has become so polarized that opposing parties have their supporters in the active and retired ranks. The Garci tapes are evidence of the existence of pro- and anti-government military officers in the active service, working on behalf of their principals. It appears that neutrality, like beauty, is mainly in the eye of the beholder.

By the way, sir, it was Dante Alighieri, the Italian Renaissance poet, who said: “The hottest place in hell is reserved for those who, in time of real crisis, remain neutral.”

Anyway, going back to my young lieutenant, I stressed the importance of observing the chain of command. Having said that, I also pointed out to him that in 1986, during the Edsa I Revolution, if everyone had obeyed the chain of command, there would have been a massacre at Edsa. Remember that the command was to open fire in an attempt to disperse the gathering. Instead, the units held their fire and joined the people on the streets. In 2001, the chain of command abandoned the incumbent president, in effect violating their oath to uphold the Constitution.

I could see my young friend was more confused than when we started our dialogue. So I took a different tack and mentioned that I was glad he was thinking about these developments. There are no hard and fast rules that could cover all the possible situations one is bound to face in the future. Most of the time, the Constitution and the chain of command are the best possible guides. But every now and then, when faced by a crisis of national significance, we are left with only our conscience. It’s the little voice inside that tells us what is the right thing to do.

When I have an opportunity to go to Manila one of these days, I hope we can share a cup of coffee.


Your fellow Peemayer



July 18th, 2005 at 12:46 am

shinbrouken (christopher aro),

know what? i’m really tempted to hit back at you for being too personal. pero, di bale na tutal yung mga gusto ko sabihin eh nasabi na ni masha (thank you!) and sil.

nakabawi na ako ng tulog



July 18th, 2005 at 1:32 am


regardless if the media verified the auheticity of the letter or not, bakit di nag-issue ng disclaimer ang unifors about that letter?



July 18th, 2005 at 5:35 am

I think FSO2 should not be allowed to get off the hook that easily. Binigyan na siya ng mga hints ni Manuel tungkol sa key issues na dapat sagutin. If FSO2 really believes in all the statements that he or she has posted, then clear and concise answers must be given to the following points: (1) the moral argument for GMA’s continued stay in power, and (2) the legal basis of the same.

If no replies can be made to these two simple points, then the part of the letter of the young PMA graduate to Gen. Farolan on the ‘little voice inside you’ that tells you what is right might serve as a guide.

FSO2 must show how foreign service officers deserving of the office and title argue their cases out. Pakita naman siya ng gilas.

Kung hindi naman niya kaya, baka puwede siyang tulangan ni Ed Aro.

And no hiding behind the “apolitical” clause again, please. People are being asked about their personal views and not their official, public stance.

I think our taxpayers deserve to see how people who represent the country abroad reason out and express their views.



July 18th, 2005 at 12:16 pm

I regret to disappoint you Sil but as I have said earlier I do not wish to engage in any public debate over this issue. Being the Carmin who you say you are, you would know the reasons why a junior foreign service officer like me would opt to shy away from this discussion.

We may differ on how we approach this issue, Sil but I do respect your personal position and your decision to go public, albeit under another name. I do have my own personal views on this matter but as long as I am with the service, I would have to keep whatever opinion I have to myself. Otherwise I would not be true to my oath.

Since you seem to disagree with the action taken by most of our colleagues, I would assume you did not sign your name in any of the statements which I and many others signed to disassociate ourselves from the group that attempted to misrepresent us.

As a Carmin assigned abroad, you would know that our people need not have sleepless nights over the kind of representatives they have overseas. I am sure that more than how we in the career foreign service reason out and express our views, what would be more important to the Filipino taxpayers is that we remain focused on what they are paying us to do, which is to promote and protect the interests of the Republic and our people at home and abroad.



July 18th, 2005 at 12:58 pm

Wow! Lumagpas lang ang weekend ang dami nang sagot!

First of all, forgive me for being silent. I don’t have internet connection at home.

Second, I think that if any of you are actually reading the posts in this blog, you will know that I DID IDENTIFY MYSELF. So please don’t accuse me of hiding behind anonymity. I openly stand by and account for my statements.

Now to answer your posts.

To Dora: I am very sorry for being personal. My comment to you was done brashly, instigated by a strong sense of need to counter-balance your own personal attacks against my father. I propose we call it quits with the ad hominems and just stick to the issues at hand. Again, my apologies.

To Manuel: Now that you’ve clarified your stand, let me answer your questions. Please remember that I am answering your questions at a personal level, and that I do purport to represent the sentiments of UNIFORS nor the Foreign Service Corps in general. I am answering you as an individual and citizen of the Republic where freedom of speech is a constitutional right.

I did not vote for Mrs. Arroyo. Nor did I join the Foreign Service because of her. Nor is she my idol. And I am definitely not here in this blog room to defend her personal life.

But she IS the President. And as a career Foreign Service Officer in the Department of Foreign Affairs, which is part of the Executive, I am bound by oath to serve whomever sits as president of the republic PROVIDED that that someone is not 1) endangering the sovereignty of the republic; or 2) that someone has proven him/herself mentally and physically incapacitated to run the government.

What I AM here to safeguard is the true identity of UNIFORS.

The true members of UNIFORS have all identified themselves in public (as evidenced by our signed Open Letter). Even the officers in the home office have signed their manifesto. To this day, not a single one of those who claim to be members of unifors.org have identified themselves in public.

At least the people behind the Anti-GMA rallies are not afraid to hide their identities. Even the ten Cabinet members who have resigned have bravely (and admirably if I may add) defended their opinions in public, even if it was at the cost of their positions in government.

What do the unifors.org members have to show for themselves except for a lot of hot air and the usurpation of the legitimate title of UNIFORS?

You’re a self-proclaimed journalist/contributor Mr. Buencamino. You should know better than to cite unnamed sources. Especially if the material from these sources are imflammatory. And ESPECIALLY if these sources have used the name of a legitimate organization, whose members have openly denouced as usurpation.

To Sil: Ms Yvonne Chua was my professor in Journalism in UP Diliman. I know her on a personal level. What is wrong with my addressing her in public? There is nothing in the Foreign Service Act which prohibits me from doing this is there?

You claim to be a career minister sir. May I ask you your name then so that I may properly address you in public? You should at least give me the courtesy of knowing the identity of a fellow diplomat who has personally called into question my capabilities as one.

So am I to assume sir by your logic, that since the members of unifors.org are engaged in guerrilla tactics against the government, their usurpation of the title UNIFORS is legitimate?

If hiding behind the name of a legitimate organization to spout imflammatory statements AND NOT SIGN YOUR NAME is not cowardly, then what do you call it?

To Duku: How’d you know our canteen uses MSG?

Seriously though, under different circumstances, we probably wouldn’t have given the letters coming from unifors.org a second thought.

But since the people behind unifors.org CLAIM to be members of the UNIFORS, a legitimate and SEC-registered Association of Foreign Service Officers, I think it is only right for the REAL members to get distressed, especially since they haven’t approved of the statements coming from unifors.org.

I agree wholeheartedly with you when you say that Foreign Service Officers should remain apolitical. That is one of the reasons for the real UNIFORS’ Open Letter. I suggest you read it again.

And finally to all you would be readers of these blogs: DO please take the time to read through the statements posted here carefully. Apparently, some of the posters don’t bother reading everything and thus make fools of themselves by incorrectly attributing and wrongly accusing other people.

I do not expect such juvenile behavior from the posters at the PCIJ blogs.

Good day to all of you.



July 18th, 2005 at 1:10 pm

i think only the owners of the blog can and should pontificate on what should go on in their blog.

but hey, if they dont object…



July 18th, 2005 at 1:38 pm

To Mr. Buencamino:

The way you formulate your view and air them shows that you are not a member of the UNIFORCE (or UNIFORS?–whatever).

So far, the band of the “brave” UNIFORCE members is focusing their collective voice on the “theft” of their organization’s name. But till now, nobody within that band presented a principled reply or position (or even a whiff of a principle).

It is with great irony that they are more concerned about a simple misrepresentation than the larger issue confronting their country (that they represent). Their bravery, including that of Mr. Aro and Ms. Emma, it seems, does not originate from principles, but from clacking what is obvious (the misrepresentation of their beloved organization’s name, UNIFORS) and from the bowels of objective opportunism: being neutral endears them to all points of view. Good for both career and ego.

FSO2’s last paragraph reminds me of that book “Remains of the Day.” Perhaps our country is too poor to afford foreign service officers who can tell (and admit with all honesty to) themselves and their superiors that the emperor is not wearing any clothes, and if so, whether they agree (or disagree) that he should go naked or not.

Discussing the principles and morality (and legal ramifications)surrounding the presidency of PGMA is one thing. Advocacy is another. The “brave” members of the “true” Unifors have neither. Only the name of their organization.



July 18th, 2005 at 3:35 pm

Mag ama ba itong sina Eduardo V. Aro at Christopher Aro both of the DFA? Pinapayagan ba ng gobyerno ang ganito? Alam ko kasi sa private sector bawal ang mag-kakamaganak, unless you own the company.



July 18th, 2005 at 3:57 pm

Let’s say Ink, that someone hijacks your name here and posts something imflammatory.

You post yourself to say that YOU are the real Ink, and that the other is just using your name and posting views that you do not espouse. The hijacker replies, saying that he/she has a right to the name “Ink” as well and it is his/her prerogative to use your registered name and air his/her views as he/she sees fit under this name.

Do you see the dilemma here?

Well, I’ve laid down my case as clearly and as concisely as I can. Since none of you would even identify yourselves, I think that I have much better things to do with my time than speak to figures in the dark.

Good day to all of you. Mabuhay ang Republika!



July 18th, 2005 at 4:50 pm

I think Ink hit the nail on the head by saying that FSOs who are members of the management labor union cannot even focus on the larger issues. They can only see the violation of their exclusive right to use the union label.

Our country is not too poor to afford to hire FSOs who can think properly. It’s just that some of them stop growing after entering and obtaining a lifetime sinecure. Sabi nga ni former Secretary Siazon about some of our non-performing assets who reach higher ranks in the DFA, magaling sila noong pumasok pero parang na-bobo habang dumadaan ng panahon.

Proof of this is that Manuel posted the letter to Gen. Farolan two days ago and up to now nobody but nobody has reacted to the message behind that post. The message is that if a soldier who belongs to a culture of strict and discipline and sacrifice finds it difficult to reconcile the chain of command principle with certain actions that he may be ordered to do, then more supposedly sophisticated and liberal civilian foreign service officers should at least examine the nuances of such principles as apolitical behavior, professionalism, etc.before they make a public stand on the same.

I think this blog room will be better served if the likes of Chris Aro simply do better things like whistling in the dark.


Chizmosong Pinoy

July 18th, 2005 at 6:06 pm

This is what I feared for a long long time. When media distorts issues for selfish cause. Because the people are hungry for news and most of us do not have a way of verifiying issues except the media. However, this would be a charged experience to somehow be very objective in reporting, no matter what the cost.

I still commend PCIJ for posting the letter. Now we know. More Power PCIJ!



July 18th, 2005 at 7:25 pm


Thank you for clarifying your stand. I have some other questions.

You said –

“PROVIDED that that someone is not 1) endangering the sovereignty of the republic; or 2) that someone has proven him/herself mentally and physically incapacitated to run the government.”

My questions- (To be answered from your personal point of view)
1) How about moral fitness for the job ?
2) Have you heard the Garci tapes or read the transcripts?
3) What conclusions did you draw?

You said –
“What do the unifors.org members have to show for themselves except for a lot of hot air and the usurpation of the legitimate title of UNIFORS?”

My questions-

1) Are the issues they raise really just a lot of hot air? If so, which issues did you consider hot air issues?
2) The last letter I received was signed UNIFFORS. So I think believe they have changed their name to Union of Filipino Foreign Service Officers. Now that they have changed their name, can you now address the issues they raised ?

You said –

“You’re a self-proclaimed journalist/contributor Mr. Buencamino. You should know better than to cite unnamed sources. Especially if the material from these sources are imflammatory. And ESPECIALLY if these sources have used the name of a legitimate organization, whose members have openly denouced as usurpation.

My comment –

1) I am not self-proclaimed. I identified myself so you would know why I posted their reply. Also you can google my name so you can read my published articles.
2) I am not a reporter. I write opinion columns.
3) I know the source of those letters but they asked to remain unnamed.
4) Those letters may be inflammatory to you but they seemed perfectly reasonable to me.
5) They explained in their letter why they tried to breathe some life back into the unifors.

If you have no internet connection at home, are you using the Embassy connection and on “company” time at that? Are you using your own computer or the Embassy’s?




July 18th, 2005 at 7:56 pm


You should know that, under no circumstance would I give any thought to a letter or statement of doubtful or questionable authenticity.

Upon your suggestion, I read the “Statement of Foreign Service Officers of the Department of Foreign Affairs” again.

Doing so only reinforces my earlier view, namely, that you and the rest of the signatories to that statement are an embarassment to the foreign service.

Your father already provided an adequate and measured response to the questionable email statement from unifors.org.

Incredibly, the REAL Unifors you are trying to protect had to come out with such an inane and tasteless statement. Worse, by its title, you attribute it to the foreign service officers but release it with the endorsement of only 50 or so FSOs out of several hundred.

Those who are reading these blogs should know that the Unifors cannot even begin to represent the disparate and contrasting (if not opposing) views and sentiments among the FSOs.

The Unifors that unifors.org misrepresented is nothing but the shell of a dream that some senior officers had years ago. For its part, Unifors appears to be trying (but not entirely succeeding) to misrepresent the FSO corps.

Crisis is opportunity. However, it now appears that it also brings the opportunists (and those gullible enough to follow them) out into the open.

By the way, I suggest that you read my post carefully. Imperatives are not absolute, though they may compel or dictate our behavior in a certain way.

There have always been method and principles in our madness.

How do I know that the DFA cafeteria uses MSG? I did not know then. Now I do.



July 18th, 2005 at 9:46 pm


Walang nepotism sa pagpasok ng Ed and Chris Aro father and son team sa DFA. Both passed the FSO exams. The only possible violation of the Foreign Service regulations was the rule that Foreign Service Officers should not directly help in preparing candidates for the exam. Silang dalawa lamang ang puwedeng magsabi kung na-violate ang rule na iyan.


You have a rather twisted way of reasoning: hindi bawal sa FS regulations ang gumamit ng form of address na “Ma’m so-and-so.” Ergo, ok lamang gamitin maski servile and unbecoming. Maski ang dating aliping namamahay ka. Well, I’ve got news for you. Neither do the regulations prohibit you from jumping into the lake. Your manner of arguing proves that the psychological part of the FSO exam should be more rigid.


I respect your desire to be apolitical. The only problem is that our work is essentially political. Defending the constitution and respecting the orders of our duly constituted authorities are as political as political can get – in the sense of protecting the “polis.”

Let us treat this as an acadmic exercise. If you were assigned as an FSO2 to the consulate in San Francisco and were designated community relations officer, how would you defend the overwheling need to retain President Arroyo, if you were asked about the current political crisis by Filipino community leaders at a public function? Let’s assume you anticipated the question and cleared your answer with your superior beforehand?

I agree with you that we must stay focused on our present tasks. As an articulate, engaging foreign service officer keen to fulfill his/her tasks competently and convincingly, how would you handle such a challenging situation?

You would be earning the princely sum of US $ 3,700 a month ( assuming you are single ). You may wish to show the non-DFA contributors to this blog site why they should not lose sleep over the taxes they pay to represent them, as well as to keep your body and soul together, in that beautiful city in Northern California.

Emma, you might want to answer this too but kindly give your reply to my earlier question first.



July 18th, 2005 at 10:51 pm


On the computer that Chris is using, I suspect it is the embassy’s. His lame excuse about having no internet connection at home does not convince me. If he does not have his own computer at home, he would just be following the cherished tradition of some of our officers who believe that clothes, car, computer, etc. have to be provided them by the government. I believe an officer who goes on an assignment abroad without a computer is like a soldier going to fight the MILF and ASG in Sulu without his M-16.

By the way, this type of officer is also likely to consider his representation allowance as a supplement to his take-home pay. As a result, such an officer lacks the necessary contacts to operate effectively at his post.

I am really sad to admit it, Manuel, but many of our representatives abroad are a sorry lot. They are also a drain on our dwindling reserves.



July 18th, 2005 at 11:07 pm

I think I cannot publicly talk before a group and endorse the President’s resignation — not in consonance with my job. But privately, as a private person, I join the call for her to resign immediately.
Foreign Service Officer assigned abroad



July 19th, 2005 at 3:42 am

It is the the height of chicancery and cowardice to have a person disguise himself and pass off a fake letter to fool people into believing he represents a large group in asking PGMA to resign.

That letter already had been discredited as DUPLICITY and PCIJ should have withdrawn its article about the fake latter and apologize to its readers. There is no use continuing to debate this issue based on a
false document.

Having said that, I challenge those who feel PGMA should resign to come forward and identify themselves. It is unprincipled to hide and keep attacking the integrity of the president when you don’t have the guts to let us know who you are. YOU ARE JUST MAKING FOOLS OF YOURSELVES BY YOUR DIABOLICAL MACHINATIONS. Better yet, why not just resign if you don’t like serving the president?



July 19th, 2005 at 7:54 am


Thanks for the enlightenment. As to Ed and Chris Aro I assume they’re innocent????



July 19th, 2005 at 11:10 am


I assure you the letters I received are not fake. I know the people who mailed them out. They are real people and real employess of the DFA. You should be proud you have colleagues like them who are standing up for what’s right.

PCIJ can defend themselves but I’m pretty sure they checked out the letters before they reprinted them.

Finally, in the guerilla’s first letter they said it was GMAwho cheated and so she should resign. Sa madaling salita, if one quits rather than fights to correct a wrong, one would be complicit in perpeuating a wrong.

DUPLICITY and DIABOLICAL are more apt for the person who cheated, was caught and is now resorting to any means available to perpetuate herself in power.



July 19th, 2005 at 12:01 pm

the president does not have integrity. anyone who says that she still has integrity hasnt listened to the tapes.

is that the definition of an fso’s job? to serve the president?

raymond sounds like lavinia.



July 19th, 2005 at 12:14 pm

I promised myself a long time ago that I will not let myself get caught in an ad hominem wordfight.

Nothing productive ever comes out of an argument that is based on name-calling and personality attacks. Such methods of discourse are usually reserved for children in their primary years, which psychologists attribute to their developing ego-centric minds.

Apparently, some of us have refused to grow up.

I refuse to engage in this childish wordplay with persons who take potshots at people from the dark.

If any of you strongly believe that you have a case against me as an FSO, then you are most welcome to present your cases either to the Board of Foreign Service Administration, who handles administrative cases against officers and staff of the DFA, or better yet, to the Office of the Ombudsman.

For Sil, I reserve this comment:

I have respectfully asked for your name as a fellow diplomat. Since you have refused to identify yourself, then I must assume that you are not who you say you are.

In which case I would have to ask you to immediately stop posing as an officer of the Department.

Good day to all of you.

“Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone.”



July 19th, 2005 at 12:35 pm

shinbrouken, this is not logical at all.

you wrote “I have respectfully asked for your name as a fellow diplomat. Since you have refused to identify yourself, then I must assume that you are not who you say you are.”

if one wants to remain unnamed, that does not mean one is not who one says one is.

you are entitled to your opinion and sil is entitled to his. do not cast aspersions to the discussions just because napipikon ka na. if you do not like where the discussion is going and feel you have been put at a defensive or you feel it has become non-productive, just ignore them/it. you sound churlish. lalo ka lang nag mumukhang at the losing end of the argument/s.



July 19th, 2005 at 3:02 pm


I take exception to your:
“Having said that, I challenge those who feel PGMA should resign to come forward and identify themselves. It is unprincipled to hide … Better yet, why not just resign if you don’t like serving the president? ”

Why must I identify myself? I am under no obligation to do so.
And why can’t I hold my own personal opinion, formed by reading and listening to all points of view (like Mr. Buencamino’s, Fr. Bernas, Justice Cruz, and yours)– that Ms Arroyo is unfit to occupy that highest and most exalted position, and that she ought to have resigned already?
I am not serving the president, I am serving the country, so why should I resign because I hold such views?

She is doing the country a great disservice. What example is she giving the country? In Saudi Arabia recently, a welfare officer who boxed and kicked a protesting OFW, apologized lamely for his “lapse in judgment”. This is the devastating demonstrative effect of our presidency on the common tao and on the children.

You remember that story of a peasant and his horse. The king disguised himself as an ordinary landlord, and went on an expedition to feel the pulse of his subjects. He tried to claim the peasant’s horse as his own. The peasant remonstrated, saying, “Even if you succeed in taking my horse from me, the King will give me justice.” The king almost broke out in tears, for he realized the ordinary peasant’s confidence in him as a just ruler, who respected the laws of the land and who could be relied upon to dispense justice.

Now here comes Ms. Arroyo, who breaks the very laws she swore to uphold. Where is the delicadeza, where is the palabra de honor, what examples are we teaching our children? She should resign at once. Saan ka ba nakakita ng ganito, let us say, in the Western world — very obvious na, parang winala-wala lang. Really, very devastating ang effect nitong sanitation circus ng Garci affair sa ating political culture, lalong-lalo na sa mga bata natin — sirang-sira na ang ating kultura. I think that immediate resignation is the only decent and honorable act left for her now. That is why I join the call, shared privately by well-meaning and earnest Filipinos, including those in government service, for her to resign, alang-alang po sa ating mga descendants at ang kanilang kinabukasan.



July 19th, 2005 at 4:34 pm


Di ko alam kung nagbubulag-bulagan ka at nagbibingibingihan o matibay lang talaga ang paniniwala mo na si Gloria ang lehitimong Pangulo ng Pilipinas.

Malinaw pa sa sikat ng araw na nandaya si Gloria noong nakaraang eleksyon.

You see, madalas sinasabi ni Gloria pati na rin ng spokesman nya na si Toting Bunye at spokesboy niya na si Mike Defensor na nanalo siya “fair and square” nung 2004.

Pero alam mo, kung ganun ka-confident si Gloria sa mandate (kuno) na nakuha niya bakit hindi siya humarap sa taong bayan?

Bakit hindi sya humarap sa isang presscon na live at doon sagutin niya lahat ng mga katanungan na simula pa lang eh iniiwasan na niyang sagutin?

Bakit ayaw niyqng magpakita? Kung ako ang presidente at totoong nanalo ako sa eleksyon, haharapin ko ng buong tapang lahat ng nag-aakusa na nandaya ako at patutunayan ko sa kanilang lahat na mali sila.

Bakit si Gloria hindi magawa yan? Ano kaya kinakatakot niya? The Filipino people deserve an explanation not just a well-crafted statement begging forgiveness for a “lapse in judgment” for talking to a Comelec official whom she did not even bother to name.

Di ko kailangan si Ermita o si Bunye o si Mike Defensor para magpaliwanag sa akin. Ang kailangan ko ay si Gloria ang humarap sa akin at patunayan niya mismo na siya ang dapat kong kilalanin na Pangulo. Wag siyang magtago sa loob ng pantalon ng mga alipores niya sa palasyo!

Simula pa lang Raymond, they tried to cover up the controversy. Simula pa lang nagsinungaling na ang palasyo sa pamamagitan ni Bunye (di ko alam kung pano pa naaatim ni Bunye ipakita ang pagmumukha niya pagkatapos ng mga ginawa niyang kasinungalingan) at hanggang ngayon patuloy pa rin silang nagsisinungaling.

Para sa akin unconstitutional ang ginawa ni Gloria at ng Davide Supreme Court noong 2001. Perotapos nayon and I gave Gloria the chance to prove na baka sakaling iba siya, baka sakaling mapaunlad niya ang Pilipinas. Economista siya di ba? Yan ang pinagyayabang niya?

Pero ano ginawa niya? She lied and lied to us . Now she still keeps on lyin. Paano mo masikmura ang ganyang klaseng tao? At presidente pa man din!

Pinagtatanggol mo Raymond ang pangalan ng Unifors sa mga taong sinasabi mong usurpers. Bakit do mo rin magawang ipagtanggol ang mga kapwa mo Pilipino sa usurper na nasa palasyo ng malacanang ngayon.


The Stinger Speaks

July 19th, 2005 at 4:45 pm

Jeezuz!!! This debate will go nowhere. On one side, you have the zealots who want the President to resign. On the other, a den of “apolitical” defenders of the State’s institutions. Rationally speaking, both camps have valid concerns.

What irks me the most, however, is that the two camps are so entrenched in their beliefs that they do not see the ones IN THE MIDDLE. Believe me, there are more of us in the middle of this fray than both sides combined. Yes, we have opinions (many quite livid) about the political circus we’re having, but at the same time we choose to remain apolitical.

We’re “in between” because we took an oath to serve the Republic, its people and its institutions. Being true professionals, we will serve WHOEVER wins the democratic race to Malacañang, whether we voted for him/her or not. We choose to rise above this political crisis and the heated debates to continue doing what we first set out to do: that is, to serve the interests of the Philippines abroad and of our countrymen overseas.

I urge all of the diplomats who shared their thoughts in this blog to go back to work. Nothing will be gained from these intramurals, except the emergence of a unwarranted telenovela about 2330 Roxas Boulevard. I am very sure that there on your tables, as on all of ours every single workday, lies a fresh heap of documents waiting to be worked on. Analyses that need to be thought out. Reports that need to be written. Signatures that need to be placed. Official visits and meetings that need to be coordinated well. (‘Di ba, Chris? Naku, pagbutihin mo ang paghahanda diyan. Mahirap yata ang nasa receiving end ng official visit.)

More so, for those of us handling consular matters, wouldn’t our working hours be better spent ironing out the kinks of the consular process? Achieving expeditious processing. Promoting kinder, gentler front-line service. Developing innovative systems. Promoting the interests of the disadvantaged in the community. Reaching out to more Filipinos in your host country.

For the Manuel Buencaminos and the Doras of this blog, thank you very much for sharing your thoughts on this issue. Sadly, not all of us in the middle share your views. We truly believe that our opinions need not be displayed for all to see and scrutinize, because they shall in time be revealed through the ballot. We choose instead to maintain true to our oath as dedicated professionals of the Republic. I encourage you to channel your energies to become even better at your professions. I hope none of you “vote with your feet” and choose to emigrate.

Finally, the Department has never sought to stifle dissent. We have always had the liveliest inter-office policy debates, and of course the petty rumor-mongering. It’s natural for any human organization. What we despise, however, is for anyone to bask in the spotlight arguing for change (like that Starmall Netopia-patronizing author of the unifors.org emails) when that person has never done anything to ease the workload of the Department’s officers and staff, or to improve the working conditions of the foreign service. Many of us see the true colors of such pretenders, who only want to assume positions of great import without breaking a sweat. If that person wants to be used by the forces-that-be, ‘wag na siyang mangdamay. Those of us who value professionalism know that the only way up in the service is through hard work and committed public service, 24/7.

Whatever our opinions are on the present leadership, I believe the best thing for us to do is to move on and be productive. The real challenge of the times has been how best to move this country forward. The perseverance and resiliency of the Filipino people will drive this country out from its current rut. The leaders? Believe me, they’re just there for the ride.

Let’s not wait for the world to pass us by.

Shall we all go back to work now?



July 19th, 2005 at 5:50 pm


The ‘unwarranted telenovela’ you refer to has already begun. Or haven’t you been reading the papers recently? And as the lyrics of the song go, ‘we’ve only just begun.’

The lively inter-office policy debates that your mention have scarecely led to an improvement in many of our policies, particularly administrative. There is widespread demoralization in foreign service posts because the administrative policy debates are just that – discussions with little follow up action.

The few times that action is taken, the result is that complaints are swept under the rug. Forgotten. We have received reports abroad of investigative teams being sent to several capitals and up to now the grievances that had been raised have not been redressed.

There is really no conflict between contributing to this blog and work.
It takes only a few minutes to write one. Unless one is a plodder who needs an hour to compose a three-paragraph post. And if you have a computer at home, you need not do in on official time and equipment.

Part of the task of moving this country forward is improving the machinery responsible for promoting and protecting our interests abroad. It is quite obvious that the machinery has broken down partically and it is need of repair.

I think the comments so far registered and those that are still to come will contribute signifcantly to the repair work. Or should I have used the word ‘overhaul’?

My proposal is to continue working and postings items. There is no basic conflict between the two. As a matter of fact, the latter complements the former.

Good luck in your efforts to improve the consular services being rendered in Saudi Arabia and Japan. We’ve suffered black eyes there recently, haven’t we?



July 19th, 2005 at 6:48 pm


You said, “we will serve WHOEVER wins the democratic race to Malacañang,”

Others capitalize DEMOCRATIC RACE. That is the crux of the war in DFA. Some choose to capitalize “whoever” others choose to capitalize “democratic race”.

It is obvious which you value more.



July 20th, 2005 at 4:26 am

Chris Aro?

Woah…it really pays to know people in high places….I guess it’s even better if one of them is your father…



July 20th, 2005 at 1:29 pm

Sil said: “On the computer that Chris is using, I suspect it is the embassy’s. His lame excuse about having no internet connection at home does not convince me.”

And then: “There is really no conflict between contributing to this blog and work. It takes only a few minutes to write one.”

Thanks for clearing that up. :-)

As for those questioning my having qualified as an FSO, well, like I said, there is are legal means to verify this. And just to help those who DO wish to check (other than throw around baseless implications), please contact the Board of Foreign Service Examinations of the DFA.

And about my Dad helping me with the FSO exams? Well, I wish he did. Then I wouldn’t have had to take that difficult and grueling exam TWICE in order to pass.

You guys should try to take the exam yourselves sometime. Maybe you’ll pass and become diplomats yourselves. THEN we’ll see how you handle being lambasted yourselves for trying to be apolitical at a time of crisis.

Good day to everyone.



July 20th, 2005 at 1:48 pm

Gusto ko sanang mag try ng Fso exams kaya lang wala akong kamag-anak sa DFA, di seguro ako papasa kung ganon kahirap ang exam ayon kay shinbrouken.



July 20th, 2005 at 1:57 pm

with that attitude, you already failed even before taking it…

subukan mo rin, baka madali lang sa ‘yo ang mahirap sa kanya…

good luck.



July 20th, 2005 at 3:33 pm


Di naman kailangan na may kamag-anak eh. Sa palagay mo ba aabot ng anim na libo ang kumukuha ng FSO exams kung puro kamag-anak lang ng taga DFA ang pumapasa?

Mataas ang mortality rate oo. Pero konting paghahanda ang kailangan. I should know. I took the exams twice na eh. If you want to know what the coverage is, I’ll be glad to help you.

And oh, by the way. Mahirap mandaya sa FSO exams. Bakit? Dahil hindi ito objective/multiple choice type na exam. Puro subjective/essay. So talagang mag-iisip ka kung ano ang isusulat mong sagot.

Of course, para sa mga taga-UP na sanay mag-puno ng bluebook tuwing exams, mas malaki ang pag-asa ninyo. 😉

Anyway, judging from the quality of writing of some of the bloggers here, I am sure some of you have more than a fighting chance of passing the FSO exams.

So huwag nang mag-atubli! Pumunta agad sa DFA o pinakamalapit na Regional Consular Office para humingi ng karagdagang impormasyon sa pagkuha ng FSO exams.

May I also take this opportunity to plug the DFA webpage (www.dfa.gov.ph) for further information. You can find complete details on the FSO exams here:


Good luck and I hope to see some of you at the DFA! Ituloy natin ang diskusyon na ito sa canteen. Sasabihan ko sa cook na huwag damihan yung MSG. :-)



July 20th, 2005 at 4:20 pm


Salamat sa mga payo mo. Sana ganon din kahirap MANDAYA sa ating mga eleksyon tulad ng pagkuha ng FSO exam. Sana yong mga examiner ng FSO ang syang pumalit sa ating COMELEC para magkaroon naman ng kredibilidad ang eleksyon.



July 20th, 2005 at 4:26 pm


Amen to that bro. Amen!



July 20th, 2005 at 9:12 pm


There are a lot of myths about the FSO exam and it is time we expose and debunk some of them if only to inform the public about the reality behind the exam as well as to diminish some of the pride, which often borders on arrogance, of people who have passed it and think that they are already among thethe best and the brigthest, to borrow from the title of a book on the JFK team, by the mere fact of having passed.

Long before the DFA established, I believe in the late 50s, a competitive examination system for screening and accepting candidates for the position of Foreign Affairs Officer ( FAO ), the Department already had counted on the services of such intellectual luminaries and nationalists as Apolinario Mabini, Carlos P. Romulo, Renato Constantino, Angel Baking, Leon Ma. Guerrero Luis Moreno Salcedo, and Diosdado Macapagal,among others.

The FAO, later FSO, exam system has changed very little after almost fifty years. It basically consists of the written portion lasting two days and the oral part also lasting two days. Slight modifications have been introduced over the years : the objective type with silly questions such as ‘what is the smallest fish in the world?’ giving way to the essay type questions, and short interviews before the written portion. But the basic structure remains and emphasis is placed on written expression, for a candidate is not given the chance to take the oral part unless he/she passes the written exams first.

Due to limitations of time and structure, not to mention the fact that the Board of Examiners is composed mostly of DFA officials, candidates cannot be measured against vital standards such as maturity, professionalism, and most important of all, attitude.

Worse, once a candidate passes, unless he fails a background security check which does not go into any
depth at all, the Secretary of Foreign Affairs sends the list of successful examinees to the President and certifies that they are qualified to be appointed as FSOs. I still have to learn of a case where a name on the list has been struck out.

The successful examinee then undergoes a cadetship of six to nine months but since he has already taken his oath as a presidential appointee, even if he fails to meet the standards of maturity, professionalism and the proper attitude, even if he proves to be an awful team player, he can be dropped from the rolls only after the Department initiates and successfully pursues its case in the appropriate and lengthy civil service proceedings.

I was told by a former director of the Foreign Service Institute, which conducts the cadetship program, that one or two in ten cadets do not deserve to continue as FSOs.

But to go back to written portion of the FSO exams, while it is true that the mortality rate is higher than 90% on the average, a more important consideration is the kind of candidates who failed. In other words, it those who did not make it did not stand a chance in the first place because of poor writing skills, lack of preparation or atrocious handwriting, then the successful examinees should be measured relative to the failing candidates.

Examiners I have spoken to say that on the average, out of one hundred papers submitted, only ten to twenty deserve to be corrected.

The oral portion basically consists of an individual interview, group discussions or role playing, and a formal dinner after which each candidate is required to give a short after-dinner speech. The examinees are tested here for the qualities mentioned earlier as well as their social skills, especially their ability to interact with others. Again, due to the time constraints and the large number of candidates relative to the number of examiners, there is little chance for a closer scrutiny of the candidates.

Due to the composition of the board of examiners, there is a tendency to pass DFA insiders during the second part even if they fail to meet certain objective standards, thereby resulting in unjust in-breeding. Although few, there have even been cases of people with obvious physical and speech defects being passed simply out of pity for such insiders who have tried four, five, sometimes six or more times to pass.

It is true that the exams are difficult and those who have passed it have good reason to be proud. But there are some inherent defects in the examination that need to be corrected. And because of these defects as well as the relative nature of the pass-fail system – those who pass should be compared to those who fail -, a little humility on the part of successful examinees would be in keeping.

The FSO exams are only the start of a diplomatic career which requires a lifetime of study, a continuing effort at self improvement and dedication. The exams are not a measure of the full worth of a diplomat.

And based on the posts so far, admittedly a limited basis for a conclusive opinion, I would give passing marks only to Striker and FSO2 even if she stubbornly refused to answer some of the questions.

But that is just the opinion of one person.



July 20th, 2005 at 9:33 pm

Just a slight clarification of my last blog. The pass-fail marks are limited to the openly DFA bloggers here.



July 21st, 2005 at 7:00 am


Ikaw at si FSO2 ang bibigyan ko ng passing marks, hindi si Striker. Pareho kasi ang rhyme ng noms de guerre ninyo kaya nagkamali ako tuloy.

Keep up the good work!



July 21st, 2005 at 9:50 am

You are terribly inconsistent Sil.

When did you say you took the FSO exams? Or was it still the FAO exams when you took it? Have you ever been part of the Board of Foreign Service Examinations? Have you ever been part of the Panel of interviewees during the oral exams? Kahit proctor man lang noong written portion? Have you ever assisted in correcting examination papers?

If you REALLY are a Career Minister in the Department, and if you REALLY are that serious about changing the way the FSO exams are conducted, then why not have yourself assigned to the BFSE or the FSI, instead of just passing condescending judgment onto the very process that allowed YOU to become a diplomat yourself.

Ah, but that is right. NOBODY here but yourself knows for certain if you REALLY are a diplomat. Familiarity with the DFA system alone does not merit your case from my point of view.

For all I know, you could be a former FSO examinee who bears a grudge against the system. Or worse, part of an activist network whose sole job is to discredit the establishment.

But IF you are who you say you are, then I agree wholeheartedly with you with your assessment that the FSO exams are flawed.

And its not because of people like myself passing.



July 21st, 2005 at 10:03 am

And guys, please don’t be discouraged by Sil’s comments about the exam.

The FSO exams are certified by the Civil Service Commission, and are crafted yearly by professors from UP, Ateneo and La Salle. While it does have its flaws, you can be sure that the BFSE, together with these professors and in consultation with the CSC are modifying the exams as they see fit. The addition of a Pre-Qualifying examination is one such modification.

I think one man’s opinion does not weigh favorably against odds like these.

And by the way? There IS a precedent case wherein the President DID NOT sign the appointment of a passing FSO examinee. The year was 2001. I should know. That was the year I first took (and failed) the exam.

Do you know whose appointment it was that the President did not sign? I think her name was Luli…



July 21st, 2005 at 8:25 pm


I understand it was Luli who did not want to be appointed. I was referring to a unilateral refusal of the president to sign the appointment of persons in the list certified by the foreign secretary and submitted to the chief executive.

If you still think that the FSO exam insures that only the best, the brightest and the most sane members of Philippine society are allowed to enter the Foreign Service, then good for you. Keep dreaming!

Just two questions, though. Have you been recently smoking that excellent Golden Triangle grass? Or are you still going through that giddy feeling after passing the exam – take two ka, di ba? – several years back?

Get your feet back to the ground, my main man!



July 21st, 2005 at 9:26 pm

“I think natural selection must have greatly rewarded the ability to reassure oneself in a crisis with complete bullshit.”
– Bob Harris



July 21st, 2005 at 10:20 pm


Hah, hah, hah! Paki-explain kay Chris ang Bob Harris quote mo dahil baka hindi niya na-gets.

To everyone in the home office, particularly those in the consular and legal offices,

It is important to learn the tricks of survival but natural selection refers not only to the welfare of the individual but also to that of the institution.

This issue of the Garcillano passport will soon blow up in our faces and unless somebody gets off his apolitical high horse and persuades some parties to secure a hold order for the president’s phone pal, we will collectively be made to answer for conspiring to hide and allow a vital witness to flee from the clutches of the law.

I hope we have not yet issued him a diplomatic or official passport.

I have read on the DFA website our narrow legal explanation but I don’t think either our lawmakers or our people as a whole will buy the official line when the time comes.

I trust that it is not yet too late to take the necessary remedial measures.



July 22nd, 2005 at 10:11 am

“Now I have a machinegun. Ho-ho-ho!”

– Bruce Willis, Die Hard 1



July 22nd, 2005 at 10:41 am


“Why do these things keep happening to me?”

– Bruce Willis, Die Hard 2 or was that Gloria ?



July 24th, 2005 at 7:49 pm

Stinger and FSO2,

For the good news. I liked your spin, Stinger, about the middle force because you took that safe ground and argued from there. FSO2, you employed a lot of finesse in refusing to be drawn into a bitter political discussion.

The bad news is that both of you have lost the debate because you failed to respond to the issues raised by Manuel, Dora, Masha, Ink and a host of others.

Maybe it is because your controlers held you in a tight leash and refused to allow you to realize your real potential by meeting the issues of legality and morality head-on. You could have achieved a draw. Sayang.

If I were the two of you, I would have argued that the president is entitled to the presumption of innocence and the tape, even if we use it as the basis for declaring her guilty which is legally not admissible, contains some conversations between her and Garci where there was no conclusive proof that cheating was being committed. You should have challenged each contention of the other side with why, who, where, when, what questions. The burden of proof was on the oust-GMA proponents, not on you.

With respect to the moral issue, you should have contended that morality in the Philippine context is relative. The events took place in the heat of an election in a country where institutions like the Comelec are not strong and where electoral fraud, while it occurs, generally does not influence decisively the results of the polls. Cheating occurs in Lanao and other isolated areas but this has been going on for a long time. You could have used the CBCP statement which means many things to many people and the response of Mrs. Arroyo to the statement, particularly her reference to accountability and a truth commission.

But the moral argument would have been your weaker point.

But these are all would- and could-have-beens. You both have lost by default. But I still think your interventions have been much better than the other FSOs who have engaged so far. I hope those mediocres are not representative of our diplomats as a whole.



July 25th, 2005 at 4:19 pm

Many Filipino foreign service personnel are not so interested in pakitang gilas to the point of trying to grade fellow employees, but in knowing the truth. They just listen to these and other blogs and form their opinions quietly. Because of their foreign exposure, many cannot stomach the President’s actuations and think that she had better resigned. While they regret that some of their colleagues used a trademark name UNIFORS, they agree with some (not all) of the points raised (like the peregrinations). That first salvo must have been done by a senior, veteran insider.



July 25th, 2005 at 8:46 pm


The grading of fellow workers was simply to illustrate how our quality control standards have slipped dramatically over the years.

Regarding the search for the truth, the legalistic approach has already started. Let’s see how the impeachment process goes.

On “senior, veteran outsiders,” remember what Secretary Siazon said about many of them. Their competence and dedication are inversely proportional to their number of years in the service.

On the violation of patent laws through the use of the UNIFORS trademark name, I don’t think that name means much because the organization is nothing but a talk shop where people get busy only when they have complaints about their own promotion or assignment. One of the few occasions when UNIFORS had a chance to undertake a concrete project, the association hardly lifted a finger to help the person who had proposed the endeavor. I refer to the proposal of Minister Jose Burgos to borrow funds from a government-controlled corporation for a low cost housing project for UNIFORS members.

If I remember correctly, Joe did not get the support he wanted from the association because the project probably
did not interest the members of the talk shop.



November 22nd, 2005 at 7:46 am

frankly, i think Chris Aro is a truly courageous and noble young man. I wish him well in his career. Saludo ako sayo, bro! Sil, you are a slimeball. go crawl under that rock you slithered from —

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