The House committee on foreign affairs, with its new chairperson Rep. Ana Cristina Siquian Go (2nd District, Isabela), today was apprised by Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano on the Duterte government's foreign policy direction and legislative agenda for the 2nd Regular Session of the 17th Congress.
At the start of the meeting, Rep. Linabelle Ruth Villarica (4th District, Bulacan) formally relinquished her position as chairperson of the committee, following her election as Deputy Speaker of the House.
She thanked the committee members and House colleagues for their support during her stint as panel chairperson.
Villarica enjoined her colleagues to support Go, her successor.
In her preliminary remarks, Go cited President Rodrigo Duterte's signing into law of Republic Act (RA) 10928, extending the validity of the Philippine passport from five to ten years.
She stressed that its passage into law was a product of the hard work of the House committee and its counterpart, the Senate committee on foreign relations, chaired by then Senator Alan Peter Cayetano.
Go commended Villarica for steering the passport validity extension in the committee, and Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez (1st District, Davao del Norte) and Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo Farinas (1st District, Ilocos Norte) for spearheading its passage.
Without the support of our esteemed Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and hardworking Majority Leader Rodolfo FariAas, Republic Act No. 10928 would not have been a reality, Go stressed.
The (House) committee on foreign affairs under my chairmanship shall continue to be a committee for improving our passport processing system, she said.
In fact, we have constituted a Technical Working Group to study the most feasible comprehensive amendment to the Passport Act, Go added.
Go vowed to ensure that the legislative priorities of the committee will be in line with the legislative priorities of the Duterte administration.
We are here to provide all the assistance we can to give the executive, and I am hoping that constructive working relationship we have built with the DFA will continue to flourish so we can expedite the passage of measures that fall under our jurisdiction, Go said.
In his preliminary remarks, Cayetano said the work of the foreign affairs is like providing salt and light, salt because it preserves and light because it gives a path forward.
He said the role of the DFA in the Build, Build, Build strategy of the Duterte administration is to build bridges, saying that there is a lot of bridging to be done.
Cayetano quoted the following remarks of President Rodrigo Duterte in explaining the administration's foreign policy.
We will observe and insist on the time-honored principle of sovereign equality, non-interference, and commitment to the peaceful settlement of disputes to best serve our people and protect the interest of our country. It does not offend anybody but it sends a message that we have a right to pursue an independent foreign policy without interference.
Cayetano pointed out that it is only through an independent foreign policy that the Philippines can truly pursue the country's interests and the Filipino people's values.
Cayetano asked the committee to declare an executive session, citing three reasons. One, national security; two, to show the committee members some things that have been classified as confidential or secret; and three, there might be questions by committee members which he could not answer in public.
Following Cayetano's request, Go declared an executive session.
Source: House of Representatives