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Consul Deric’s new job offers exciting sea of challenges

04 May 2019

Consulate and POLO officials give Consul Roderico Atienza a farewell dinner at Cinta J.


By Vir B. Lumicao

Consul Roderico Atienza, who used to be deputy head of post in Hong Kong, is going home May 1, ending a relatively brief but “rewarding” posting in the city to take up a new and challenging assignment in the Department of Foreign Affairs.

His departure ends a two-year and two-week stint here that would have been much shorter, had it not been for a delay in the signing of the new government budget.

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He says there is really nothing special about his leaving. “In fact, if I have to go by the scheduled rotation, it was really due on the 31st of January. That was exactly when I completed six years overseas,” Consul Deric said.


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His departure comes just a month shy of the expected recall to the Home Office of Consul General Antonio Morales and Consul Fatima Quintin, both of whom are also winding up six years of posting abroad.

Consul Deric says he will assume his new role one of two directors of the Maritime Ocean Affairs Office.

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“It is a standalone office inside the DFA that recognizes the importance of the archipelagic nation status of the Philippines as one of the framers of the United Nations Law of the Sea of 1982,” he said.

He calls the UN Law of the Sea “one of our greatest diplomatic victories together with Indonesia. We essentially defined one of the provisions recognizing archipelagic nations. It’s the Bible of the sea, right? Essentially, if you classify that, it’s one of the biggest transfers of territory that is legal and won without a fight.”

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“Part of my role when I return to Manila is to make sure that we adhere to and respect and implement what is due to us by the law, especially in the area of the South China Sea,” Consul Deric said.

The Philippines has an overlapping claim over the South China Sea with Taiwan, China, Malaysia, Brunei and Vietnam. Some reefs, islets or shoals are within the Philippines’ economic zone that stretches 200 km from its western coastline.

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“If there is something about the South China Sea, then I’d be included or my team would be included. I think it is incumbent upon us that if we have rights to the sea, …we should be observant of that and, of course, benefit from that,” he said.

He looks back to his stay in Hong Kong “as very rewarding and in so many ways a relief. The good thing about Hong Hong is that the results of the work you can do here are immediately felt and seen.”

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“In that sense, you have a – whether you say it’s a psychic or psychological – reward, because you can see that the people you are helping in very short order receive the benefits,” he said.

It is in Hong Kong, which is teeming with Filipino workers, where he realized the important role of a consulate, something that he did not see in Korea where he was the consul general before coming here.

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OFWs in Korea are “under a very orderly system of government. There is a lot of system of monitoring and enforcement actions” that Hong Kong also has.

But he said with some 220,000 workers and with the power of social media, the Hong Kong post creates opportunities but also some challenges. 

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