CA confirms envoys to Vatican, UAE, 5 other countries

Paterno Esmaquel II
CA confirms envoys to Vatican, UAE, 5 other countries
Lawmakers confirm the nomination of the Philippines' ambassadors to the Vatican, UAE, Greece, Brazil, Argentina, Indonesia, and the Czech Republic

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Appointments (CA) on Wednesday, February 21, confirmed the nomination of the Philippine ambassadors to the Vatican, the United Arab Emirates, and 5 other countries. 

The following ambassadors hurdled the CA on Wednesday:

  1. Grace Relucio Princesa, ambassador to Holy See with concurrent jurisdiction over Malta
  2. Frank Revil Cimafranca, ambassador to the Hellenic Republic with concurrent jurisdiction over Cyprus
  3. Marichu Barredo Mauro, ambassador to Brazil with concurrent jurisdiction over Colombia, Guyana, Suriname, and Venezuela
  4. Hjayceelyn Mancenido Quintana, ambassador to the United Arab Emirates
  5. Linglingay Fonacier Lacanlale, ambassador to Argentina, with concurrent jurisdiction over Bolivia, Paraguay, and Uruguay
  6. Cesar Lee Hiong Wee, ambassador to Indonesia
  7. Ombra Jainal, ambassador to the Czech Republic

Rowena Mutia, foreign service officer IV, was confirmed on Wednesday as well. 

Envoy to Vatican

Grace Relucio Princesa, the newly confirmed Philippine ambassador to the Vatican, has been a career diplomat for 3 decades. 

Senator Panfilo Lacson, chair of the CA foreign affairs committee, said Princesa was once recognized for handling the high-profile case of overseas Filipino worker (OFW) Sarah Jane Balabagan. 

Balabagan was the teenager sentenced to death in 1995 for stabbing her employer to death, 34 times. Her sentence was eventually reduced to one year in prison and 100 strokes of a cane, after which she returned to the Philippines.   

Lacson said that aside from handling Balabagan’s case, Princesa is known for facilitating “the evacuation of some 150 Filipinos” from Baghdad in 2003, when she was chargé d’affaires and consul general in Baghdad. 

The evacuation came “just two days before the United States’ troops set off bombs in Baghdad,” said Lacson. Princesa’s efforts made her “one of the most influential Filipinos in the Gulf.”

Lacson also pointed out that the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People “has expressly supported her nomination” as ambassador to the Vatican.

Envoy to UAE

Like Princesa, Hjayceelyn Mancenido Quintana was confirmed as ambassador to the UAE on Wednesday.

Lacson said Quintana “holds an impressive academic portfolio.”

Quintana took up diplomatic studies at Oxford University in the United Kingdom, as a British Chevening scholar. 

As a Fulbright scholar, she also pursued a master’s degree in international public policy at John Hopkins University in Washington DC.

A first placer in the competitive Foreign Service Officers’ Examination, Quintana has been posted in Beijing, Washington DC, and Dublin. 

Lacson said Quintana helped create “high-impact projects that strengthened ties among Filipino-American groups.” She also worked on finalizing key diplomatic agreements between the Philippines and China. 

Envoy to Greece

On Wednesday, career diplomat Frank Revil Cimafranca was also confirmed as Philippine ambassador to Greece, with concurrent jurisdiction over Cyprus.

Lacson said Cimafranca, a Boholano, started as a clerk and researcher at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in 1981. He later passed the Bar in 1989 and the Foreign Service Officers’ Examination in 1990.

Cimafranca, consul general in Dubai from 2012 to 2015, “was credited for providing travel documents, gratis, to almost 1,000 overseas Filipino workers in Dubai who availed of the amnesty program of the UAE government.”

He also helped repatriate Filipinos from war-torn Syria.

For helping OFWs, Cimafranca received the Parangal-Kabalikat na Lingkod-Bayan Award in 2010.

He is currently assistant secretary of the DFA’s Office of Consular Affairs.

Envoy to Brazil

Another nominee, Marichu Barredo Mauro, was confirmed on Wednesday as ambassador to Brazil, with concurrent jurisdiction over Colombia and Venezuela.

Lacson said that as consul general in Milan, she has been “cited for projects geared toward people empowerment, which include series of seminars on financial literacy, social security benefits, and awareness of the rights and privileges of Filipino workers in northern Italy.”

In Italy, she also launched the Northern Italy Action Group against Drugs, in line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s anti-drug campaign.

She was previously assigned to Manama, Bahrain; Tel Aviv, Israel; and Brussels, Belgium.

Mauro joined the DFA in 1996, Lacson said.

Envoys to Argentina, Indonesia, Czech Republic

Linglingay Fonacier Lacanlale, a diplomat for almost 40 years, was meanwhile confirmed as ambassador to Argentina.

Lacanlale will have concurrent jurisdiction over Bolivia, Paraguay, and Uruguay.

Her previous postings include the Philippine embassy in Vienna, the Philippine consulate in New York, and the Philippine embassy in Thailand. 

She was named DFA undersecretary for administration in 2014, and was reappointed by Duterte in the same position in 2017.

Lacson said that Lacanlale “received a Department Award for Distinguished Service in 2013, a Royal Decoration of the Insignia of the Most Exalted Order of the White Elephant in 2012, and the Gawad Mabini Dakilang Kamanong Award in 2012, among others.”

On Wednesday, Cesar Lee Hiong Tan Wee was also confirmed as ambassador to Indonesia, and Ombra Jainal as ambassador to the Czech Republic. – Rappler.com

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Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.