MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte has appointed former Senate President Edgardo Angara as the country’s special envoy to the European Union.
A list of presidential appointees released Wednesday showed that Angara was appointed as Special Envoy of the President to the European Union, working under the Department of Foreign Affairs, last May 3.
The appointment of a special envoy to the EU, a vital trading partner of the Philippines and consistent advocate for the Mindanao peace process, may be seen as a move by the Duterte administration to improve ties with the bloc.
Duterte had earlier lashed out at the EU for its criticism of his government’s war on drugs, moves to revive the death penalty, and the proposal to bring down the minimum age of criminal responsibility.
The appointment of Angara also comes at a time the EU is reviewing its trade perks to the Philippines, which are tied to the country’s adherence to is human rights commitments.
Angara, as chair of the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino, had endorsed Duterte's presidential bid in the May 2016 elections.
Even after his time at the Senate, Angara, a lawyer and educator, has continued to push for enhanced ties between the Philippines and other countries, particularly in the area of cultural affairs. He is a frequent visitor to Spain and Mexico, where he has pursued initiatives centering on the countries' shared history.
Also on the list of the President's latest appointees were Dante Ang, chairman emeritus of the Manila Times, as Special Envoy of the President for International Public Relations.
Malacañang also clarified that former House Speaker Jose De Venecia was tapped as Special Envoy of the President for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), not as Special Envoy for Inter-Cultural Dialogue as it had announced.