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Still no new labatt for Hong Kong

22 August 2019

By The SUN

More than a month since Labor Attache Jalilo dela Torre was booted out of his Hong Kong post and told to move to Riyadh, a replacement for him has yet to be named.

Reports coming out of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in Manila suggest Secretary Silvestre Bello III is still choosing from four likely candidates.

These negate reports lawyer Fidel Macauyag, who currently heads the country’s labor office in Taichung, Taiwan, has already secured the post.

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Usudan says the DFA has to give consent to the appointment of a new labor attache
Both the Philippine Overseas Labor Office and the Consulate deny the report.

The Consulate’s acting head of post, Germinia Usudan, said the Department of Foreign Affairs has not been told a new labor attaché for Hong Kong has been named.

Usudan said that under the “one country team approach”, DOLE has to send an appointment memorandum naming the new appointee to the DFA for concurrence. Once the DFA approves, the Consulate is informed.

“Kapag in-appoint siya ni Secretary Bello, kino-convey siya sa DFA. Tapos, out of courtesy lang, pinapadala siya (the memo) sa post and then we say if we have objection or no objection,” Usudan said.

“Usually, pag wala namang information or any derogatory record, we say no objection. Pero we have not received (the memo), wala pa,” she said.
This was the same statement given earlier by Polo’s officer-in-charge Antonio Villafuerte.

“Wala pa pong request for acceptance,” he told The SUN in a text message.

Meanwhile, Dela Torre has returned to the Philippines and taken a month-long leave of absence. He is said to be still mulling whether to proceed to Riyadh or file for early retirement.
A last-minute bid to get him retained in Hong Kong was circulated and signed by big Filipino community organizations just before he left on July 31, which cited the current unrest in the city due to the massive anti-extradition bill protests as reason.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo reportedly agreed to take up the petition directly with President Rodrigo Duterte, but there has been no word so far on whether he has actually done this.

Apart from Macauyag, the others named as being in the running for the labor attaché post are: Ramon Pastrana, former labatt in Macau, and incumbents Nasser Munder in Jeddah and Cesar Chavez in the Manila Economic and Cultural Office Labor Center in Taipei.

Although Macauyag is widely reported to be favored by Bello, he may not have an easy time getting DFA’s approval because he has a pending case before the Ombudsman.

Macauyag was with the Office of the Prosecutor General before he was named as one of Dole’s eight new attaches in 2017. He was originally assigned to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, but after a few months was moved to Taichung, the second largest city of Taiwan.

A Dole insider said this was because officials assigned to Taiwan do not need a clearance from the Ombudsman as the Philippines does not have a diplomatic post there, only a trade and cultural office.

Previous to his OPG job, Macauyag was city prosecutor for nine years in Cagayan de Oro City where he was linked to a case fixing scandal.

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