MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III has named career diplomat Sonia Brady as the Philippines' new ambassador to China, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said Saturday, May 26.
Brady served as the Philippines' ambassador to China from 2006 to 2010, Valte told Rappler in a phone interview. "She has spent a lot of time in China," Valte said.
Her nomination comes as the Philippines remains locked in a standoff with China over the disputed Scarborough Shoal for nearly two months now. "This is someone who can hit the ground running, as the President said," Valte added.
The Commission on Appointments, however, still needs to confirm Brady's nomination before the Philippines can officially send her to Beijing.
Brady's knowledge of China spans almost 4 decades. Her first foreign posting, in fact, was also in China from 1976 to 1978, Valte said.
Later, she served as the Philippines' ambassador to Myanmar from 1995 to 1999, and to Thailand from 2002 to 2003. She also represented the Philippines as the deputy chief of mission to Thailand from 1992 to 1994, then moved to Jakarta, Indonesia in a similar position from 1994 to 1995.
Before naming Brady, the President had nominated an Aquino family friend, Domingo Lee, to serve as the Philippines' envoy to Beijing. The Commission on Appointments repeatedly deferred Lee's confirmation due to his lack of basic knowledge on diplomacy.
Eventually, Lee requested Aquino to withdraw his nomination as ambassador to China due to his “protracted nomination process” that the Philippines cannot afford amid its ongoing tension with China.
The Palace announced Lee's withdrawal on April 19, a little over a week after the Scarborough Shoal standoff began.
Instead of a Philippine ambassador to China, the Chinese government has often summoned the Philippines' charge d' affaires in China, Alex Chua.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.