|Formed June 23, 1898|
Department executive Perfecto Yasay, Jr.
|Annual budget ₱13.0 Billion (2015)|
|Headquarters 2330 Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City|
The Philippines' Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA; Filipino: Kagawaran ng Ugnayang Panlabas) is the executive department of the Philippine government tasked to contribute to the enhancement of national security and the protection of the territorial integrity and national sovereignty, to participate in the national endeavor of sustaining development and enhancing the Philippines' competitive edge, to protect the rights and promote the welfare of Filipinos overseas and to mobilize them as partners in national development, to project a positive image of the Philippines, and to increase international understanding of Philippine culture for mutually-beneficial relations with other countries.
During the period when the Philippines was a colony of the United States, the Government did not take an active role in the crafting and execution of its foreign policy. This was also the case during Japan's occupation of the Philippines from 1942 to 1944. The country regained full control of foreign affairs and diplomatic matters on July 4, 1946, when Commonwealth Act No. 732 was passed creating the Department of Foreign Affairs. On September 16, President Manuel Roxas issued Executive Order No. 18, which provided for the organization and operation of the DFA and the Foreign Service. The main tasks of the DFA then were to assist in postwar rehabilitation, formulate policies for the promotion of investment, and re-establish diplomatic relations with neighboring countries.
The DFA also proposed amendments to the Bell Trade Act, the RP-US Mutual Defense Treaty, and the Laurel-Langley Agreement with the United States, which helped to strengthen trade and military relations with the US, and at the same time initiating the Philippines into the arena of independent foreign policy.
The DFA had its heyday during the post-war years, with its increased participation in the international arena. At that time, the international environment was beginning to change, requiring that new thrusts and priorities in Philippine foreign policy be determined. During the Cold War, against the backdrop of the Korean War in 1950 and rising communism in China, the Philippines projected an increasing internationalist foreign policy. The Philippines helped forge the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade or GATT in 1949, became a founding member of the United Nations and one of the drafters of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and was among the early proponents of disarmament and non-interference in the internal affairs of free peoples. The Philippines' greater participation in global matters culminated in Carlos P. Romulo’s election as the first Asian President of the UN General Assembly in 1952.
Realizing the importance of foreign relations, President Elpidio Quirino pushed for the passage of the Foreign Service Law in June 1952, as embodied in Republic Act (RA) No. 708. During the post-war period, the Department of Foreign Affairs focused on institution-building, while simultaneously increasing Philippine global exposure. In 1953, Secretary Raul S. Manglapus instituted the Foreign Service Officers (FSOs) examination to professionalize the Foreign Service and improve the recruitment and selection of new FSOs.
President Ferdinand Marcos redefined foreign policy as the protection of Philippine independence, territorial integrity and national dignity, and emphasized increased regional cooperation and collaboration. He placed great stress on being Asian and pursued a policy of constructive unity and co-existence with other Asian states, regardless of ideological persuasion. In 1967, the Philippines launched a new initiative to form a regional association with other Southeast Asian countries called the Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN. It was also during this period that the Philippines normalized economic and diplomatic ties with socialist countries such as China and the USSR, which he visited in 1975 and 1976, respectively. The Philippines also opened embassies in the eastern bloc countries, and a separate mission to the European Common Market in Brussels.
Throughout the 1970s, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs pursued the promotion of trade and investment, played an active role in hosting international meetings, and participated in the meetings of the Non-Aligned Movement. The Foreign Service Institute was created in 1976 to provide in-house training to Foreign Service personnel.
The 1986 EDSA Revolution saw the re-establishment of a democratic government under President Corazon Aquino. During this period, the DFA once again pursued development policy, in the active pursuit of opportunities abroad in the vital areas of trade, investment, finance, technology and aid. The DFA also revived its efforts to boost the Philippine’s role in the Asia-Pacific region.
During this period, the Philippines became one of the founding members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation or APEC in November 1989, and an active player in regional efforts to establish the ASEAN Free Trade Area. In 1990, the DFA proposed the establishment of more diplomatic missions to the Middle East to improve existing ties with Arab states and to respond to the growing needs of Overseas Filipino Workers in the region.
In 1991, the Philippine Senate, heeding the growing nationalist sentiments among the public, voting against the extension of the Military Bases Agreement. This symbolized the severance of the political and ideological ties which had long linked the country to the United States. Also in 1991, President Aquino into law R.A. 7157, otherwise known as the New Foreign Service Law, which reorganized and strengthened the Foreign Service. It instituted a Career Minister Eligibility Examination as a requirement for promotion of FSOs to the rank of Minister Counsellor, thereby ensuring the professional selection of those who would eventually rise to the level of career ambassadors.
Under Fidel V. Ramos
The Ramos administration from July 1992 to June 1998 defined four core areas of Philippine foreign policy: the enhancement of national security, promotion of economic diplomacy, protecting Overseas Filipino Workers and Filipino nationals abroad, the projection of a good image of the country abroad.
The Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995 provided the framework for stronger protection of Filipino workers abroad, with the creation of the Legal Assistance Fund and the Assistance-to-Nationals Fund, and the designation in the DFA of a Legal Assistant for Migrant Workers’ Affairs, with the rank of Undersecretary.
Among the other significant events in foreign affairs during the Ramos years were the adoption by ASEAN in 1992, upon Philippine initiative, of the Declaration on the South China Sea, aimed at confidence-building and the avoidance of conflict among claimant states; the establishment of the Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines (BIMP)-East Asia Growth area in 1994; the establishment of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in 1994 as the only multilateral security dialogue in the Asia-Pacific region conducted at the government level, and the signing between the Philippine Government and the MNLF on September 2, 1996 of the Mindanao Peace Agreement.
The Estrada administration upheld the foreign policy thrusts of the previous administration, focusing on national security, economic diplomacy, assistance to nationals, and image-building. The Philippines continued to be at the forefront of the regional and multilateral arena. It successfully hosted the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in July 1998 and undertook confidence-building measures with China over South China Sea issue through a meeting in March 1999. President Estrada strengthened bilateral ties with neighboring countries with visits to Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, and South Korea.
The DFA also played a major role in the forging of a Visiting Forces Agreement with the United States, which was ratified in the Senate. The country also sent a delegation of 108 observers to the Indonesian parliamentary elections, and engaged in cooperative activities in the areas of security, defense, combating transnational crimes, economy, culture, and the protection of OFWs and Filipinos abroad.
Offices of the Department
The DFA has eleven principal offices. The geographic offices manage political and economic relations in different regions and pursue Philippine interests in multilateral organizations, These include the following:
The line offices are the following:
List of Philippine embassies
Countries in bold mean that the said mission is located within their territory.