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Philippine ambassador to Singapore is new HK congen

20 August 2017

By Daisy CL Mandap

Ambassador Tony Morales
Philippine ambassador to Singapore, Antonio Morales, is set to take over as the next consul general in Hong Kong.

This was according to outgoing Consul General Bernardita Catalla, who told The SUN that Ambassador Morales’s nomination has already been endorsed by the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila. He is now just waiting for the exequatur, or a written official confirmation of his appointment, from the Hong Kong government.

Congen Catalla herself is waiting for the agrement, or approval by the Lebanese government of her appointment as the next Philippine ambassador to the country, which could come at anytime. She has served in Hong Kong for the past three years.

Amba Tony, as he is fondly called by Filipinos in Singapore, will be the first consul general in Hong Kong to have previously served as ambassador in another country.

CG Catalla (3rd from left) at farewell lunch with Filcom leaders
However, Congen Catalla clarified that this does not indicate a diminution in rank because one needs to be at least a career minister 2, an ambassadorial level, to be assigned as head of post in Hong Kong

A lawyer and veteran diplomat, Amba Tony appears to be highly regarded by his colleagues in the foreign service, especially those who have had the chance to work with him.

His consul general in Singapore, Victorio Dimagiba, Jr., described the ambassador in an email message to The SUN as fair to his officers and staff, and as a silent worker who gets things done.

Dimagiba credited the ambassador with the introduction of changes that paved the way for smoother transactions by the public at the embassy, and for leading the post in recording the second highest turnout in the last overseas voting, next only to Hong Kong.

Another colleague who had the chance to work with him in San Francisco described Amba Tony as “low key but magaling”.

Ambassador Morales, who is in his mid ‘50s, assumed his post as head of mission in Singapore on May 29, 2014, and is expected to serve the remaining part of his standard six-year overseas posting in Hong Kong.

Before being assigned to Singapore, he was deputy chief of mission at the Philippine Embassy in Beijing, and consul general in Milan, Italy and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
He served as deputy consul general in San Francisco and was previously assigned to Rome and Ankara.

Taking his place as ambassador in Singapore is reportedly a political appointee from a major property developer in the Philippines.
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