6 Filipino diplomats receive PH’s highest honors

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte confers the Order of Sikatuna on Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Assistant Secretary Hellen dela Vega during the 120th Anniversary celebration of the DFA at their office in Pasay City on June 18, 2018. Also in the photo are Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano and Sec. Bong Go of the Office of the Special Assistant to the President. ACE MORANDANTE/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

Note: Hellen Barber de la Vega, former Los Angeles Consul General, is married to Joveno ‘Bing’ de la Vega, one of the founders of the Philippine Disaster Relief Organization, a partner of ABS-CBN Foundation International, supporting Sagip Kapamilya. The LA community is patiently waiting for confirmation and formal announcement from DFA that de la Vega, former Ambassador to Myanmar, will be the next PH Ambassador to Australia.  Photo shows her husband assisting de la Vega.

MANILA – Six Filipino diplomats were conferred three of the country’s highest honors during the 120th Foundation Anniversary of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) led by President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Monday.

The Order of Lakandula with the rank of Gold Cross was awarded to DFA Undersecretary for Policy Enrique Manalo, recognized for his “steadfast leadership,” during his stint as the Acting Secretary of DFA from March to May 2017.

Manalo was cited for propelling the articulation of the country’s independent foreign policy subject to the strategic priorities set by the current administration.

The Order of Sikatuna with the rank of Gold Cross was conferred to DFA Assistant Secretary Hellen de la Vega for her role in the success of the 2017 Philippine chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Meanwhile, four diplomats became recipients of the Gawad Mabini, an award given to distinguished Filipinos who helped promote the country’s interest abroad.

The award is composed of three ranks: the Grand Cross or Dakilang Kamanong, given to ambassadors or other high officials who head a Philippine delegation in an international conference; the Commander or Dakilang Kasugo for officers with a rank between career minister to Foreign Service Officer class IV; and Member or Kasugo for DFA personnel and staff.

Dakilang Kamanong was awarded to Consul General to Dubai Paul Raymond Cortes; Dakilang Kasugo to Vice Consul Luningning Camoying and Special Assistant Robespierre Bolivar; and the Kasugo to Eduardo Paraan, who served as former Acting Director of the Intelligence Service Unit.

Bolivar, the Gawad Mabini with the rank of Commander awardee, served as the previous DFA spokesperson before Assistant Secretary Elmer Cato took over the position.

Bolivar was awarded the honor for his stint as the Special Assistant Secretary to the Undersecretary for Policy, where he drafted the DFA’s National Security Strategic Plan 2017-2022. (PNA)