LOCSIN INAUGURATES NEW PH CHANCERY IN BERLIN
MANILA -- Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Tuesday led the inauguration of the new Philippine chancery in Berlin, Germany.
Locsin was joined by Ambassador Ina Lepel from the Federal Foreign Office of Germany, Charge d'affaires Lillibeth Pono, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Administration Theresa Dizon-De Vega, and former Ambassador to Berlin Melita Sta. Maria-Thomeczek during the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
In his speech, Locsin explained the country's independent foreign policy, as well as the administration's programs against terrorism and illegal drugs.
The inauguration of the chancery, following the opening of the Philippine Consulate General in Frankfurt last month, marks the expanding presence of the Philippine government for Filipinos in Germany.
With more space available, the Embassy said it could now accommodate more attaches from different Philippine agencies in the European capital such as the Department of Labor and Employment, through the Philippine Overseas Labor Office.
In its official page, the Philippine Embassy in Berlin said the new chancery is also expected "to pave the way for more robust relations" between Germany and the Philippines.
"We want it to be a hub for intensified engagement not only with the German officialdom, but more so, with the German people," its statement read.
A large portion of the chancery is dedicated for a cultural space called the Sentro Rizal named after the Filipino national hero Dr. Jose Rizal, who, more than a century ago, wrote his famous novel, Noli me Tangere, which was first published in the German capital of Berlin.
According to the Embassy, the space would be used for lectures, concerts, film screenings, literary readings, startup meet-ups, and other activities to let Germans further understand the Philippines, its people, as well as its culture.
"At a time when a few countries are testing virtual embassies to save on costs, this building serves as a testament to the continued relevance of good old, solid, brick-and-mortar diplomacy," the Embassy said.
"At a time when some governments are erecting walls and putting up fences, this building is a testament that there are still those of us who would rather build bridges, which is what this new chancery is at heart," it added.
The plan to acquire a property in Berlin started during the time of former Ambassador to Berlin Delia Albert who had her eye on the building at Jaegerstrasse 71, where Rizal completed his novel, Noli Me Tangere. Unfortunately, the property was not available.
After Albert's stint, former Ambassador Cleofe Natividad continued the search and netted several possible locations for the chancery with initial negotiations starting in 2013.
However, with Berlin's real estate market heating up, the pace of bureaucracy, and lack of funds back then, the project was not able to prosper.
It was during the time of Melita Sta. Maria-Thomeczek, who served as the country's top diplomat in Berlin from 2015 to 2018, that the country succeeded in finding a suitable property. After her retirement in January 2018, the project's completion was then shepherded by Pono. (PNA)