Ambassador Jose Manuel Romualdez, the Philippine diplomat whose term is marked by the return of the historic Balangiga Bells, and who worked on the delivery of US-made covid-19 vaccines into the country, is conferred the Order of Sikatuna.
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte awarded Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez with the Order of Sikatuna, Rank of Datu, Gold Distinction, in recognition of his outstanding efforts in strengthening the long-standing comprehensive and thriving ties between the Philippines and the United States of America.
The Order of Sikatuna is an order of diplomatic merit conferred upon individuals who have rendered exceptional and meritorious services to the Republic of the Philippines. Established by President Elpidio Quirino via Executive Order 571 on February 27, 1953 as the “Ancient Order of Sikatuna” in commemoration of the first treaty between the Philippines and a foreign country, the award is also given to diplomats, officials, and nationals of foreign states who have rendered conspicuous service in fostering, developing, and strengthening relations between their country and the Philippines.
While serving as Philippine envoy, Ambassador Romualdez “further deepened the Philippines-US alliance through enhanced defense and security cooperation, particularly in maritime security and the upgrading of Philippine defense capabilities; for promoting trade and investment resulting in the recent entry into the Philippines of US-based SBA Communications, thereby advancing the development of the country’s telecommunications technology backbone.”
Ambassador Romualdez also played a lead role “in the procurement of 20 million doses of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine, significantly contributing to the government’s pandemic response efforts.” He also helped facilitate a deal for the supply of 10 million doses of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine, and is also instrumental in the supply of Janssen and Novavax vaccines.
Appointed in July 2017, Ambassador Romualdez was instrumental in the return of the Balangiga Bells to the Philippines 117 years after the bells were taken from Samar as war booty by American soldiers in September 1901, at the height of the Philippine-American War that lasted from 1899 to 1902.
In his remarks, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. lauded the men and women of the Department of Foreign Affairs for their “exceptional and meritorious and exceptional services to the people and Republic of the Philippines, the present global health crisis and amidst rising international tensions, with the peace, stability and security in this part of the world.”
The Cabinet Secretary also noted the “beneficial results of their tireless labors and creative responses had an immeasurable impact on the lives of millions of – let’s not call them ordinary – but extraordinary Filipinos as they showed in this pandemic,” adding that “Filipinos are a people truly worthy of the greatest sacrifices of extraordinary public servants.”
According to Locsin, the Order of Sikatuna is one of the three senior honors of the Republic, conferred upon Filipino and foreign diplomats who have made immense contributions to the foreign relations of the Philippines and its geopolitical standing. “This afternoon, my good friend, Ambassador Jose Manuel ‘Babe’ Romualdez, will join the distinguished roster of the Order of Sikatuna awardees,” he said.
The Ambassador virtually joined the conferment ceremony held in Malacañang Palace, Manila from Washington, DC. The Embassy’s former Minister and Consul, Gunther Emil Sales, accepted the award on his behalf.
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