Lee named special envoy to China

By Aurea Calica, The Philippine Star

Posted at May 17 2012 07:22 AM | Updated as of May 17 2012 05:38 PM

MANILA, Philippines - After failing to get Congress’ nod and being dropped by President Aquino as ambassador to China, Domingo Lee has been appointed one of two special Philippine envoys to Beijing.

Aquino appointed Lee and Cesar Zalamea as special envoys with the task of getting more tourists and investors amid the territorial row over the West Philippine Sea, particularly Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal.

The President signed the appointment of the two on May 10 and their appointments would take effect immediately.

Lee had earlier asked that his nomination as ambassador to China be withdrawn.

But the President had mentioned that Lee was well connected in China, especially with businessmen and that was why he was chosen for the post.

They both have a term of six months.

Aquino had decided not to re-appoint him after the Commission on Appointments rejected his appointment several times.

Lee was tasked to encourage more Chinese tourists to come to the Philippines as their main destination for leisure and relaxation trips, pointing out the many tourist attractions and leisure activities that the country has to offer.

Several Chinese tour packages in the Philippines were reportedly canceled in the wake of the standoff between Philippine and Chinese ships in Panatag Shoal.

Lee was also directed to promote the 2012 to 2013, Philippines-China Years of Friendly Exchanges by way of supporting the projects and activities identified by the Department of Foreign Affairs and its partner-agencies.

He will also seek out the support of the Philippine business and the Filipino-Chinese communities for the successful implementation of the Years of Friendly Exchanges of the two countries.

Zalamea, who is holding several high positions in private companies, was tasked to attract more Chinese investments.

In his terms of reference, Zalamea, current chairman and chief executive officer of Focus Range International Limited, would have to advance the country’s economic interests with China by “pursuing initiatives aimed at increasing Chinese investments in the Philippines.”

He will also actively seek out and sign on potential Chinese investors who will take part in the financing, construction and running of key infrastructure projects under the public-private partnership scheme.

Zalamea was tasked to encourage more Chinese investors to locate and set up in the Philippines in preferred areas in investments as well as new and emerging areas of growth, such as but not limited to the auto industry, information and communications technology, tourism infrastructure, mining, high value agribusiness, shipbuilding, power plants and renewable energy.

As special envoys, Lee and Zalamea could not use the title of “ambassador” and unless authorized by the President through the DFA chief, they shall not commit or obligate the government of the Philippines.

But the two shall be accorded diplomatic status and be issued a diplomatic passport for the duration of their mission abroad.

Lee and Zalamea will “faithfully serve the interest of the Philippine government and the Filipino people in (their) capacity as special envoy(s).”