Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

From ‘time off’ to ambassador: Marcos gives plum Paris post to former PMS chief Angping

Bea Cupin

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From ‘time off’ to ambassador: Marcos gives plum Paris post to former PMS chief Angping

PMS Secretary Ma. Zenaida Angping attends the 2023 budget briefing of the Office of the President and the Presidential Management Staff, at the senate on October 12, 2022. Angie de Silva/Rappler

Rappler file

A month after a leave that the Palace kept hush-hush, the former PMS chief gets a plum diplomatic post

MANILA, Philippines – In early December 2022, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. granted Naida Angping’s leave after she asked for “personal time for herself and her family.”

Just a little over a month later, the former Presidential Management Staff (PMS) chief and long-time aide to the Marcos-Romualdez clan is ending the “time off” she had wanted for a plum post in Paris as the Philippines’ ambassador to France.

Angping’s nomination to the post was forwarded to the Commission on Appointments on Tuesday, January 17. According to the Commission on Appointments, she was appointed on January 13, 2023.

She has not held a diplomatic post before this.

Angping, if confirmed, will take the place of Ambassador Junever Mahilum-West, a career diplomat who had only been appointed to the post in October 2021. Mahilum-West herself announced she was leaving the post on Thursday night, January 11 (Manila time), through a public post on Facebook.

“Enjoyed Paris too briefly,” Mahilum-West said, adding her next assignment would be in Vancouver, Canada.

The Philippines currently has a consulate in Vancouver, which had been led by another career diplomat, Maria Andrelita Austria. Austria was recently confirmed as the Philippines’ ambassador to Canada in December 2022. She will hold office in the Philippine embassy in Ottawa.

Ties to the clan

Angping is no stranger to politics, especially in relation to the President’s family.

A former Manila congresswoman, she was a long-time aide to the late Benjamin “Kokoy” Romualdez, the father of House Speaker Martin Romualdez. Kokoy is the brother of former first lady Imelda Marcos, the President’s mother.

When the then-Marcos transition team first announced Angping’s appointment as PMS chief, they hyped her experience as aide to the late Kokoy Romualdez, who was once the country’s envoy to the United States, China, and Saudi Arabia. She was also his aide when Kokoy Romualdez was Leyte governor.

During the 2022 campaign, Angping served as Marcos’ “disbursing officer,” the President himself said in a leaked video of his speech at his victory party with campaign staff.

Controversial stint

That she was picked to head the PMS – an office tasked to help the President make well-informed decision, follow-up on tasks assigned to key officials, and set the agenda for Cabinet meetings – isn’t surprising, given her ties to the Marcos-Romualdez clan.

But mere months in her new role, there was also talk among Malacañang insiders that the PMS chief was not performing, and was frequently absent, save for her appearance in Marcos’ public events.

Her leave came after her husband Harry Angping, himself a former legislator, was allegedly caught harassing a staff member of a Bangkok hotel where Marcos and his delegation were billeted during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Bangkok.

The Palace then – and even until now – refused to comment on the reports. Only a high-ranking official, speaking only on background, denied the supposed arrest of the PMS chief’s husband. Thai police denied the arrest as well.

Prior to Angping’s appointment as ambassador, Malacañang was mum on her status, even as a new executive order “streamlined” the offices under the Office of the President. – with reports from Sofia Tomacruz/Rappler.com

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.