MANILA — The Commission on Appointments (CA) on Wednesday approved the designation of Mylene Garcia-Albano as the Philippines' ambassador to Japan, the first woman to hold the post.
Albano, a lawyer and former Davao City representative in Congress, vowed to "strengthen" the Philippines' ties with Japan, a major trade partner.
"The strength of our ties with Japan are powered in large part by our dynamic people-to-people exchanges and invaluable contribution of the Filipino community in Japan to fostering mutual understanding between our 2 countries," Albano told the panel.
There are some 300,000 Filipinos living and working in Japan, making it the largest overseas Filipino community in Asia, said Albano.
"We'll work actively to protect the welfare of our kababayans in Japan," she said.
Albano said President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., through the Foreign Affairs Secretary, identified "food security, energy, health, education, trade and investment, and tourism" among the priorities she should work on during her tenure.
During the confirmation hearing, Albano was grilled on several topics, including the Philippines' position on comfort women and her supposed lack of experience in foreign service.
"I think what I can fall back on is my experience in Congress. Being ambassador, I would believe that one of the biggest requirements is the ability to get along with people. I did a lot of that work in Congress," she said.
Albano said she would work within the parameters of the Department of Foreign Affairs' (DFA) position on comfort women.
"I will do all that I can to make sure that whatever our comfort women need, they can have, within the parameters of the DFA positions in this matter... I believe is that they (DFA) recognize what the comfort women went through during World War 2," Albano noted.
Several lawmakers also urged Albano to push for Filipinos' visa-free entry in Japan.
"That is something I can certainly pursue," she said.
During the CA's plenary session, Surigao del Sur Second District Rep. Johnny Pimentel said Albano would be a "strong representative and conduit of the Filipino people" in Japan.