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The Expendables: Duterte’s appointment spree of new ambassadors leaves envoys packing their bags

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At least three Filipino envoys have been left with no choice but to pack their bags and hope that a better job is awaiting them after President Rodrigo Duterte appointed new individuals to take their posts.

In his Manila Bulletin column published last Sept. 20, former Philippine Ambassador to France Jose Abeto Zaide said Duterte’s appointment of former Makati Rep. and television host Teodoro “Teddyboy” Locsin Jr. as the Philippine Permanent Representative to the United Nations has displaced Ambassador Lourdes Ruiz Yparaguirre, who had presented her credentials to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon only in April 2015.

Meanwhile, Philippine Ambassador to the United Kingdom Evan Garcia might no longer have the chance to present his credentials to Queen Elizabeth II on October 12 as scheduled since Duterte appointed former envoy Antonio Lagdameo to the post.

Also in danger of losing her diplomatic posting is former Malacañang Protocol Chief Celia Ana Feria, who was supposed to be the country’s ambassador to Spain.

While Zaide said it is the President’s prerogative to appoint ambassadors, he said there was an unwritten 80-20 rule– in his time, at least– when career diplomats had 80 percent of the posts while the remaining 20 percent went to political appointees.

Although the ratio has since been reduced to 51:49 in favor of career diplomats due to a provision in Republic Act 7157 or the Philippine Foreign Service Act, Zaide said: “My fear is if Malacañang is unable to resist the temptation to take advantage of the quota.”

As if the sudden replacement of incumbent envoys isn’t enough to make other career diplomats shake in their shoes, Zaide said Malacañang has also asked for the schedule of tours of duty of ambassadors abroad, signaling the possibility they might leave their postings at any given time.