OPINION: Paynor’s ambassadorial assignment to the U.S. on hold

Ellen T. Tordesillas

Posted at Nov 04 2016 10:41 AM

President Duterte has decided that his choice to be ambassador to the United States, Marciano “Jun” Paynor will not go to Washington States this year.

It has nothing to do with the uncertain state of PH-US relations.

Duterte feels that Paynor is needed here for the preparations of the 2017 ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) meeting which will be hosted by the Philippines.  There will be two summits, one for the 10 ASEAN leaders that will be held mid- 2017 and  what is called ASEAN plus –plus meeting involving leaders of other dialogue countries namely Australia, China, Japan, India, New Zealand, Russia, South Korea, and United States sometime in the later part of next year.

Paynor confirmed this: “I'm making sure that all the preparations for our hosting of ASEAN 2017 from January to November next year are on stream. I serve at the pleasure of the President and wherever he thinks I can be of help, that's where I'll be. “

Paynor said, “That I'm not going to DC till the end of the year is sure, but, that I'll not be going anymore remains to be seen. “

A career diplomat, Paynor knows many things are unpredictable in foreign service. "We are not there till we are there,” he said borrowing a famous quote.

That explains why Duterte has not submitted Paynor’s name to the Commission on Appointments for confirmation, a Constitutional process in ambassadorial assignments.

Duterte, meanwhile, has appointed Jose Manuel “Babes” Romualdez as special envoy to the United States.

Earlier, former Sen. Francisco Tatad who covered the foreign affairs beat as a journalist, was puzzled about Romualdez’ appointment which he called “highly inappropriate  because two months ago, DU30 ‘appointed’ retired Ambassador Marciano Paynor as the Philippine ambassador to Washington, D.C.”

“How could DU30 have a special envoy and an ambassador to Washington the same time? Where does the work of one end, and the work of the other begin? Which one should the US government recognize as the ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of the Republic of the Philippines?” Tatad asked.

Since Paynor won’t be assuming the Washington post,  I imagine there’s a need for a special envoy in Washington D.C. to reduce the poisoned atmosphere between the two allies.

It is talked about in the diplomatic circle that Romualdez was offered the U.S. ambassadorial position but he declined as he has business concerns that he is not willing to give up.


The name of Teodoro Locsin, Jr. for the position of Permanent Representative to the United Nations has been submitted to the C.A. for confirmation.

This corrects the process for ambassadorial assignments which former President Gloria Arroyo and former Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Jr. debased when  the latter  assumed the U.N. position without being confirmed by the C.A.

Then Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo justified Davide’s assumption to the UN post without CA confirmation saying  that the position of UN permanent representative is not a full ambassadorial position and as such, confirmation is not necessary.

That’s not what the Foreign Service Act (R.A. 7157) says. It states:“The President shall nominate and, with the consent of the Commission on Appointments, appoint ambassadors extraordinary and plenipotentiary to head embassies and permanent missions.”

The Philippine has four permanent mission and one of them is the Philippine Mission to the United Nations  in New York.

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.