Early Recall for Consul General?

by Ricky Rillera

NEW YORK – Is Consul General Ma. Theresa Dizon-De Vega,  who just assumed her new post nine months ago,  being recalled early to work in another capacity in the Department of Foreign Affairs?

At a press conference with the media led by the Filipino American Press Club of New York (FAPCNY) on August 14, she was asked if this was true.  She did not appear surprised and took the question as if she was anticipating for it to be asked.

“I was wondering when you would ask that,” she quipped, and directed her response to an article published in a Manila newspaper.

Speculations about her early recall to the head office have circulated in Manila and eventually in New York when she arrived two weeks ago.

According to sources who did not want to be identified in this report, they say that these “high-level talks” started in Manila even before she arrived there.  Dizon-de Vega left for Manila to take part in the annual 11th Ambassadors’ Tour from July 11 to 16 where some 40 delegates from US Northeast joined – the second largest delegation after Hawaii which took place in Manila and Davao.

This was followed by a Culinary and Heritage Tour of Pampanga organized by the Consulate for the delegates from US Northeast on July 16 and 20 to her home province of Pampanga. Twenty-five delegates visited historical sites, attended briefings by local government officials and indulged in Kapampangan dishes and delicacies.

The Post-Tour program was aimed at introducing the heritage, cultural, and culinary attractions of Pampanga Province as well as the latest economic developments and business opportunities in the area.

The consul general was supposed to have returned to New York after the Regional Planning Meeting of US Heads of Posts but she was requested to extend her stay to help with the upcoming 50th ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) Anniversary Grand Celebration.  The task included all the management functions of the ASEAN Ministerial Meetings, Post-Ministerial Conferences and the Celebration itself.

As a host country, organizing an event attended by foreign affairs ministers and other government officials could be a logistical nightmare. Those involved work tirelessly around the clock – sometimes experiencing lack of sleep and fatigue that affect the overall functioning of the body.

Not even Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano was spared by the consequences of an overstrained body. He missed some scheduled ASEAN-related meetings that included the ASEAN-China Ministerial Meeting, the ASEAN-US Ministerial Meeting, the ASEAN-India Ministerial Meeting, the ASEAN-Australia Ministerial Meeting, the ASEAN-South Korea Ministerial Meeting, the ASEAN-New Zealand Ministerial Meeting, and the ASEAN-Canada Post Ministerial Conference.

Hosting the 50th ASEAN was considered a success. Thanks to the hard work of all Foreign Affairs staff who raised the positive image of the country and its people.

Apparently, Secretary Cayetano and other officials took serious note of Consul General Dizon-De Vega’s leadership, knowledge, expertise, work ethic and performance which confirmed her “readiness to operate” at a higher level.

When asked by the press if her early recall was imminent, she responded with a smile and said, “I’m still here.”  And when she was pressed further, she continued, “…no comment. As far as I know, this is my only designation.”

That left everyone in the room perplexed and made their own conclusions.

Prior to assuming her post in New York as Consul General in November 2016, Dizon-de Vega was DFA Chief Coordinator, Office of the Secretary from 2013-2016 in Manila where she was assigned after serving in New York as Deputy Consul General and manager of the Philippine Center Management Board from 2011 to 2013. Mario Lopez de Leon, Jr., who has retired, was the Consul General then.

According to her bio posted in the Website of the Philippine Consulate General New York, Dizon-De Vega has served in various offices in the DFA as well as foreign postings in Mexico, Hong Kong SAR, China and the United Kingdom.

She began her foreign service in 1995 after placing first in the Foreign Service Officers Examination. She speaks Spanish and French in addition to English, Kapampangan and Filipino.

She is the recipient of various awards and decorations conferred by past Presidents of the Republic of the Philippines including: the Order of Sikatuna-Rank of Dakilang Kasugo (Gold Distinction), Order of Lakandula-Rank of Pinuno (Officer), and Gawad Mabini-Rank of Dakilang Kasugo (Commander). She was likewise conferred by the Government of the Kingdom of Spain with the Medal of Civic Merit (Isabela La Catolica) for services rendered during official and high-level visits of Philippine Delegations to Spain.

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