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Saturday, December 9, 2023

Review, update Foreign Service Act—lawmaker

A party-list legislator has sought a review of the Philippine Foreign Service Act of 1991, saying that the law “may no longer be responsive to current economic realities and the cost of living in foreign posts.”

OFW Rep. Marissa Magsino said Republic Act (RA) 7157 or the Philippine Foreign Service Act of 1991 does not serve its purpose anymore.

She said the law was enacted on September 19, 1991 to reorganize and strengthen the country’s foreign service.

One of its objectives, Magsino said, was to provide suitable salaries, allowances and benefits that would attract competent personnel into the foreign service “on the basis of merit and demonstrated capability in the promotion of national interests,” she said.

The lawmaker said the compensation scheme established under RA 7157 covers various classes of positions under the government’s Foreign Service Group, from Foreign Service Staff Employee III with a Salary Grade 5, and to Chief of Mission Class I with a Salary Grade 29. Maricel V. Cruz

“RA 7157 was enacted in 1991 to provide suitable salaries, allowances and benefits that will attract competent personnel into our Foreign Service. However, with the cost of living nowadays, especially in countries where our foreign service officers and employees are posted, it may no longer allow them to have decent living,” she said.

“I hope in due time, and through appropriate means, we will increase the basic salaries of our foreign service personnel and officials. It is only right and proper in consideration of their unique tasks of providing support and assistance to our OFWs and overseas Filipinos, and in representing the nation around the world,” Magsino said.

She also highlighted the importance of the country’s foreign service officers and personnel in protecting the rights and promoting the welfare and interest of Filipinos overseas, including OFWs, especially in the absence of a Migrant Workers Office in some countries.

“Although we acknowledge that some from our sector are frustrated with the seeming unresponsiveness of our embassies and consulates to their needs, we also have to look at the possibility that they are doing their best considering the limited manpower in serving thousands and thousands of Filipinos in a host country, and considering the burden of their inadequate compensation,” Magsino stressed.

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