Thursday, April 28, 2016

DFA confirms PHL envoy to China hospitalized

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Wednesday confirmed that Philippine Ambassador to China Erlinda Basilio has been hospitalized.
GMA News Online was the first to report that Basilio, 71, underwent tracheostomy - a surgical procedure where a pipe is inserted into the trachea to provide an airway and to remove secretions from the lungs.
"We confirm that Philippine Ambassador has been hospitalized," DFA spokesman Charles Jose said in a text message. "She is under the care of a team of good doctors."
Basilio's medical confinement came at a crucial time when relations between Manila and Beijing may be further strained by an upcoming decision by an international tribunal in The Hague on the South China Sea disputes.
Philippine officials said the tribunal’s ruling is expected sometime in May. The case was filed by the Philippines in January 2013, a move that has angered China, but earned praises from the international community, including the United States.
"She is currently in a hospital in Beijing. She can not travel. She will be out of circulation for a month or more," a Filipino diplomat earlier told GMA News Online.
"The concern is that there is no functioning ambassador to Beijing when the tribunal rules on our case," the source said.
Basilio, a retired career diplomat turned political ambassador, was appointed as Manila’s top envoy to Beijing 2012. She steps down when President Benigno Aquino III ends his term on June 30.
In the absence of Basilio, Jose said her deputy, Minister Elizabeth Te, will be the embassy's charge d'affaires.
Te is no stranger to China since she was first assigned there as a junior officer, the source said.
"The personnel at the embassy are competent to temporarily handle the affairs until a new ambassador is appointed," the source said.
"Alternately, the DFA can send a senior chief of mission as Charge d’Affaires until Ambassador Basilio recovers or until the arrival of the new ambassador under a new administration," the source added.
The Philippines will not have a new ambassador until the new president appoints one and goes through the bicameral Commission on Appointments and receives approval from the host country, which is China.
"That takes three months minimum," the source said. —KBK, GMA News

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