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DFA usec named head of GRP panel with MILF

December 1, 2008 1:47pm
MANILA, Philippines - President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on Monday named Foreign Affairs undersecretary Rafael Seguis the new head of the government peace panel that will hold negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Seguis - who is also currently undersecretary for special concerns - will head the new government negotiating panel with the MILF, following the dissolution of the one headed by retired general Rodolfo Garcia over the controversy surrounding the botched memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain.

"Paeng Seguis is the new GRP head," the President told reporters.

Executive Sec. Eduardo Ermita said Seguis's appointment was signed Monday morning. Ermita added that the rest of the composition of the new government negotiating panel with the MILF will be announced on or before December 15.

In accepting his appointment as new government panel chief, Seguis admitted that his new position is "a tremendous challenge."

“This is a tremendous challenge and opportunity which I humbly accept knowing fully well the difficult road that lies ahead. We will do our work quietly, but diligently because in any negotiation it is just as important to listen and understand the views of the other side," Seguis said.

Rafael Seguis is a career diplomat who retired in 2004 but was immediately reappointed as Foreign Affairs undersecretary by President Arroyo.

Seguis was previously sent to Iraq on two separate occasions to negotiate for the release of OFWs Angelo dela Cruz and Roberto Tarongoy and was given in July 2005 a presidential citation “for his steadfast and able leadership of Team Iraq" which resulted in the successful release of the Filipino hostages.

He also received the Order of Sikatuna with the Rank of Datu (Gold Distinction) on October 26, 2006 which is the highest presidential award bestowed to government officials and employees.

Seguis has been a consistent member of Philippine guest delegation to the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers (ICFM) of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) and Islamic Summits from 1996 to 2008.

He also represented the Philippines in various United Nations (UN) and Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) high-level meetings.

Seguis had also served in various posts in the DFA, including:

• Philippine Ambassador to Indonesia and East Timor ( 2002 – 2003);
• Philippine Ambassador to Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Yemen (1999-2002);
• Philippine Ambassador to Iraq and Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (1992 to 1996); and
• Deputy Chief of Mission in Tripoli (1988-1991) and in various capacities in the Philippine Embassies in Rome, Bangkok, Cairo, Tehran and the United States, among others.

- Johanna Camille Sisante, GMANews.TV
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