The Department of Foreign Affairs is the executive department of the Philippine government tasked to contribute to the enhancement of national security, protection of the territorial integrity and national sovereignty, to participate in the national endeavor of sustaining development and enhancing the Philippines' competitive edge, to protect the rights and promote the welfare of Filipinos overseas and to mobilize them as partners in national development, to project a positive image of the Philippines, and to increase international understanding of Philippine culture for mutually-beneficial relations with other countries.
History of DFA in the Philippines
During the period when the Philippines was a colony of the United States, the Government did not take an active role in the crafting and execution of its foreign policy. This was also the case during Japan's occupation of the Philippines from 1942 to 1944. The country regained full control of foreign affairs and diplomatic matters on July 4, 1946, when Commonwealth Act No. 732 was passed creating the Department of Foreign Affairs.
On September 16, President Manuel Roxas issued Executive Order No. 18, which provided for the organization and operation of the DFA and the Foreign Service. The main tasks of the DFA then were to assist in postwar rehabilitation, formulate policies for the promotion of investment, and re-establish diplomatic relations with neighboring countries.
The DFA had also proposed amendments to the Bell Trade Act, the RP-US Mutual Defense Treaty, and the Laurel-Langley Agreement with the United States, which helped to strengthen trade and military relations with the US, and at the same time initiating the Philippines into the arena of independent foreign policy.
Under Marcos Administration
President Ferdinand Marcos redefined foreign policy as the protection of Philippine independence, territorial integrity and national dignity, and emphasized increased regional cooperation and collaboration. He placed great stress on being Asian and pursued a policy of constructive unity and co-existence with other Asian states, regardless of ideological persuasion.
The 1986 EDSA Revolution saw the re-establishment of a democratic government under President Corazon Aquino. During this period, the DFA once again pursued development policy, in the active pursuit of opportunities abroad in the vital areas of trade, investment, finance, technology and aid. The DFA also revived its efforts to boost the Philippine's role in the Asia-Pacific region.
During this period, the Philippines became one of the founding members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation or APEC in November 1989, and an active player in regional efforts to establish the ASEAN Free Trade Area. In 1990, the DFA proposed the establishment of more diplomatic missions to the Middle East to improve existing ties with Arab states and to respond to the growing needs of Overseas Filipino Workers in the region.
Under Fidel V. Ramos
The Ramos administration from July 1992 to June 1998 defined four core areas of Philippine foreign policy: the enhancement of national security, promotion of economic diplomacy, protecting Overseas Filipino Workers and Filipino nationals abroad, the projection of a good image of the country abroad.
The Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995 provided the framework for stronger protection of Filipino workers abroad, with the creation of the Legal Assistance Fund and the Assistance-to-Nationals Fund, and the designation in the DFA of a Legal Assistant for Migrant Workers’ Affairs, with the rank of Undersecretary.
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The Estrada administration upheld the foreign policy thrusts of the previous administration, focusing on national security, economic diplomacy, assistance to nationals, and image-building. The Philippines continued to be at the forefront of the regional and multilateral arena. It successfully hosted the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in July 1998 and undertook confidence-building measures with China over South China Sea issue through a meeting in March 1999. President Estrada strengthened bilateral ties with neighboring countries with visits to Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, and South Korea.
The DFA also played a major role in the forging of a Visiting Forces Agreement with the United States, which was ratified in the Senate. The country also sent a delegation of 108 observers to the Indonesian parliamentary elections, and engaged in cooperative activities in the areas of security, defense, combating transnational crimes, economy, culture, and the protection of OFWs and Filipinos abroad.
DFA Organizational Structure
The department is headed by the Secretary of Foreign Affairs (Philippines), with the following undersecretaries:
- Undersecretary for Administration
- Undersecretary for Civilian Security and Consular Affairs
- Undersecretary for Multilateral Affairs and International Economic Relations
- Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs
- Undersecretary for Bilateral and ASEAN Affairs
The policy and geographic offices of the DFA manage political and economic relations in different regions and pursue Philippine interests in multilateral organizations. These include the following:
- Office of Multilateral Affairs and International Economic Relations
- Office of American Affairs
- Office of Asian and Pacific Affairs
- Office of European Affairs
- Office of Middle East and African Affairs
- Office of ASEAN Affairs
- Office of United Nations and Other International Organizations
- Maritime and Ocean Affairs Office
The DFA's line offices are the following:
- Office of Migrant Workers Affairs
- Office of Consular Affairs
- Office of Civilian Security
- Office of Public and Cultural Diplomacy
- Office of Treaties and Legal Affairs
- Office of Policy Planning and Coordination
- Office of Protocol
- Office of Fiscal Management Services
- Office of Asset Management and Support Services
- Human Resource Management Office
- Intelligence and Security Unit
- Department Legislative Liaison Unit
- Internal Audit Service
Agencies Under DFA
- Foreign Service Institute
- Technical Cooperation Council of the Philippines
- UNESCO National Commission of the Philippines
DFA News & Updates
Here are the latest posts and updates from DFA:
Department of Foreign Affairs
Headquarters: 2330 Roxas Boulevard, Pasay, Philippines
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