Senator Loren Legarda expressed support to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in strengthening its economic research activities and cultural diplomacy programs, stressing that these are essential in forging closer ties with other nations.
“We should strengthen our economic research and translate them to operationalized information and the DFA should share it with other departments, like the Department of Trade and Industry, the Department of Tourism, among others,” said Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committees on Finance and Foreign Relations, during the hearing on the proposed 2018 budget of the DFA and its attached agencies worth 19.66 Billion Pesos.
She added that there should be increased statistical data availability from the DFA’s Office of the Undersecretary for International Economic Relations (OUIER), like the grants available from various multilateral institutions which the Philippines can access.
“There are various grants and loans from different multilateral institutions that we can access to fund programs that our national budget cannot cover. The Green Climate Fund (GCF), for example, can fund programs on climate resilience, but the Philippines, which is among the most vulnerable to climate change impacts, has yet to access it. Another is the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which can provide loans for our infrastructure projects,” she explained.
“We need to know what grants and loans are available, what are the requirements, and how do we build the capacity of local governments in accessing these grants. These information should be available with the DFA,” veteran legislator said.
Moreover, the seasoned lawmaker also stressed the importance of strengthening the DFA’s cultural diplomacy programs as a way of forging closer diplomatic relations with other nations.
“Our culture–shaped by our heritage, practices, and traditions–is a powerful tool in promoting our diplomatic agenda. I want to see a robust cultural diplomacy unit of the DFA and more cultural engagements between the Philippines and other nations. As the DFA states, culture is a soft opener to both our political and economic initiatives,” said the lady senator, who has been supportive of the DFA’s cultural diplomacy unit, providing funds for it ever since she became Vice Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Finance and until now that she is the Chairperson.