Philippine veteran diplomat is acting foreign secretary

President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday (March 9) appointed Under-secretary Enrique Manalo as the Philippines’ acting Foreign Secretary after the previous minister, Perfecto Yasay, was forced to step down over his US citizenship.
President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday (March 9) appointed Under-secretary Enrique Manalo as the Philippines’ acting Foreign Secretary after the previous minister, Perfecto Yasay, was forced to step down over his US citizenship.PHOTO: ASIA NEWS NETWORK/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER

MANILA • President Rodrigo Duterte has appointed a career diplomat and a key player in steering the Asean agenda as the Philippines' acting foreign secretary.

Under-Secretary Enrique Manalo replaces Mr Perfecto Yasay, who was forced to step down on Wednesday - after a congressional body determined that he had lied about owning an American passport.

"Under-Secretary Manalo is an excellent transition man," said Mr Duterte's spokesman Ernesto Abella in a statement yesterday.

Mr Manalo, 64, has been with the foreign service since 1970.

He is currently the Philippines' point person for the country's chairmanship of Asean.

He has served as an ambassador to Britain, Ireland, Luxembourg and Belgium. He was also the Philippines' permanent representative to the United Nations in Geneva and in New York.

Mr Manalo's late father, Mr Armando Manalo, was a journalist who also was an ambassador to Belgium. His mother, Mrs Rosario Manalo, was the Philippines' first female career diplomat.

But Mr Manalo is expected to head the foreign affairs department only until May, when Mr Duterte is expected to name Senator Alan Cayetano to the foreign secretary post.

Mr Cayetano, 46, was Mr Duterte's running mate in the 2016 election, but lost to Liberal Party candidate Leni Robredo.

Mr Yasay, 70, was sacked after the 15-member Commission on Appointments, consisting of legislators, concluded that he had lied about not having been granted United States citizenship in 1986.

In a statement posted on his Facebook page on Thursday, he said: "There is a better life for me beyond the rejection of my appointment."

He added that he now has time to get a haircut.

Raul Dancel

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 10, 2017, with the headline 'Philippine veteran diplomat is acting foreign secretary'. Print Edition | Subscribe