New Philippine envoy assumes office


Saudi Gazette

JEDDAH — Adnan V. Alonto has assumed office as the Philippine ambassador to the Kingdom.

The labor-friendly diplomat on his first day in office at the embassy in Riyadh spotted his compatriots waiting outside the building. The ambassador immediately issued his maiden order that no Filipino should be made to wait outside the embassy premises for any service.

Several ambassadors of the ASEAN countries were welcomed Alonto at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, according to diplomatic sources.

Alonto was named ambassador to the Kingdom a few months ago but his takeover was delayed as he was entrusted with a crucial task in troubled Mindanao region where he acted as the emissary of the president with the rebel groups.

The Philippine ambassador’s post was lying vacant for over a year after the departure of Ezzedin H. Tago at the end of his tenure.

The new envoy takes charge at a time when Saudi-Philippine ties are reaching a new level following the visit of President Rodrigo Duterte to the Kingdom.

Alonto, a non-career diplomat who is a seasoned lawyer with a high-profile background, was chosen by President Duterte to represent the country in Saudi Arabia.

As an attorney Alonto has spent considerable time in the United States where he made waves when he defended President Duterte for his remarks about former US President Barack Obama. He has played a vital role in Duerte’s election campaign among overseas Filipinos in the northern parts of the US.

Like President Duterte, Alonto has clarity of vision about requirements of the OFWs and the mechanism of achieving them. Both hail from Mindanao and also graduated from the same college though in different years.

Most of the OFWs in Kingdom hail from Mindanao and the southern parts of the country.

Alonto’s father, late senator Ahmad Domocao Alonto, was a stalwart and towering personality of the Muslim community in the Philippines and was the only Filipino recipient of the prestigious King Faisal Award for Service to Islam. He was also a founding member of the Muslim World League. He was a very strong advocate of integration of southern Muslims into the country’s mainstream.

Strengthening the newly formed Overseas Filipino Ban (OFB), expediting the payment of pending arrears of OFWs who returned home and enhancing the welfare of OFWs are among a host of issues that need the immediate attention of the new ambassador, according to OFW sources.