Marcos nominates Raymond Balatbat as ambassador to Saudi Arabia

<p>Philippine Ambassador to Lebanon Raymond Balatbat <em>(Screengrab from PH Embassy in Lebanon Facebook)</em></p>

Philippine Ambassador to Lebanon Raymond Balatbat (Screengrab from PH Embassy in Lebanon Facebook)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has nominated career diplomat Raymond Balatbat as the new Philippine ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with concurrent jurisdiction over the Republic of Yemen.

Surigao del Sur 2nd District Rep. Johnny Pimentel said the President nominated Balatbat on June 3 and his papers received by the congressional Commission on Appointments (CA) on June 5.

“The new posting or place of assignment of an ambassador as well as the rank promotion of senior foreign service officers are both subject to CA confirmation,” Pimentel, CA assistant minority leader, said in a news release on Sunday.

Balatbat is the current Philippine ambassador to Lebanon and one-time executive director of the Department of Foreign Affairs’ Office of Middle East and African Affairs.

He entered the foreign service in 1997.

At present, the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh is headed by Dhargé d’Affaires Rommel Romato.

Saudi Arabia is the Philippines’ third-largest source of cash transfers from overseas Filipino workers, after the United States and Singapore, according to Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas records.

The more than 700,000 Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia sent home to their families a total of USD2.1 billion (PHP117 billion) in cash remittances coursed through the banking system in 2023.

The amount does not include dollars sent home via non-bank money transfer channels or physically brought home by returning workers.

Pimentel said the CA has also received the appointment papers of Commodore Francisco Tagamolila Jr., who is being promoted to the rank of rear admiral.

Tagamolila is the new head of Naval Forces Western Mindanao based in Zamboanga City.

Pimentel likewise confirmed that the CA has received the new appointment papers of Department of Migrant Workers Secretary Hans Leo Cacdac, who was bypassed last month.

“The CA won’t be able to act on any new nominations or appointments until mid or late August at the earliest,” Pimentel said.

Congress adjourned on May 25 and will resume session on July 22.

The constitution empowers the 25-member CA to vet the competence, fitness and integrity of key presidential appointees and to approve or reject them.

The CA is composed of 12 members each from the House of Representatives and the Senate, with the Senate President as ex-officio presiding officer.

Pimentel is urging the public to submit to the CA secretariat any information or complaints against appointees pending confirmation.

In March, the CA denied an Army colonel’s promotion to brigadier general after his estranged wife complained of physical abuse, concubinage and neglect of financial support to their children. (PR)