Wednesday, August 03, 2005

New US Envoy assumes post

Ambassador Johnson takes over from Mussomeli


Outgoing diplomat given Sikatuna award

Outgoing United States Charge d’Affaires Joseph Mussomeli yesterday formally turned over his post to retired US Ambassador Darryl Johnson who will serve as acting ambassador to the Philippines until a US ambassador is appointed.

Mussomeli turned over his post to Johnson in a ceremony at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) led by Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo.

Romulo, on behalf of President Arroyo, also conferred upon Mussomeli the Order of Sikatuna, rank of Lakan, for his "key role in the initiation, signing and implementation of various bilateral agreements in the areas of military reform, law enforcement, economic development and science and technology, helping push forward the Philippines’ development goals and affirm the vibrant and active relationship between the Philippines and the United States.’’

Mussomeli has been appointed as US ambassador to Cambodia and is set to leave the Philippines this week, while Johnson had recently arrived in Manila to assume his post as acting ambassador to the Philippines.

Romulo thanked Mussomeli for his efforts in preserving the good relations between the Philippines and the US, and expressed his confidence that Johnson, the new acting ambassador to the Philippines, would also continue to work for the strengthening of ties between the two countries.

"Mr. Mussomeli played an important role in steering the RP-US alliance through several critical episodes in our relationship, and made a significant contribution to the enhancement of RP and US bilateral relations, most importantly to the promotion and sustainment of peace and development in Mindanao," Romulo said.

Mussomeli assumed his post at the US embassy on Aug. 5, 2002. During his term as charge d’ affaires, he had frequently assumed the top post of the embassy when former US ambassador to the Philippines Francis Ricciardone was given by the US State Department other assignments like the establishment of the new US embassy in Iraq.

Meanwhile, Johnson, a retired US ambassador, will be the US acting ambassador to the Philippines until a new ambassador has been appointed.

Johnson retired in January 2005 after a long and distinguished career as a US Foreign Service Officer. His last assignment was as US ambassador to Thailand from 2001 to 2004. He has held other positions like Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, China and Mongolia. He was also the first US ambassador to Lithuania from 1991 to 1994.

The DFA earlier said that the US government would be sending a new ambassador in October, when the US ambassador recommended to be transferred to the Philippines would finish her term in her current posting.

Romulo, however, has refused to say who he thinks would replace former US Ambassador Ricciardone, though reports persist that US ambassador to Ecuador Kristie Anne Kenney has already been recommended for transfer to the Philippines.

Party-list solon criticizes statement of Mussomeli

Bayan Muna Rep. Joel Virador yesterday scored US Charge’ d’ Affaires Joseph Mussomeli for "again flaunting US arrogance" and intruding in the country’s internal political affairs.

Virador was reacting to suggestions made by Mussomeli yesterday as possible courses of action that President Arroyo could take to bail herself out of the controversies haunting her regime.

He said the US, with Mussomelli acting as its mouthpiece, was not in a position to dip its hands on matters that solely concern the Filipino people and their welfare. "Any overtures from the US should be held in grounded distrust."

"Mussomeli is expectedly acting on behalf of his country’s interests, knowing fully well that a sovereign act of Filipinos to topple an illegitimate and iniquitous regime would weaken the US’s stranglehold on the Philippines," Virador said.

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