President Marcos Nominates Raymond Balatbat as Ambassador to Saudi Arabia

Manila, Philippines – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has nominated Raymond Balatbat, a veteran diplomat, to serve as the new Philippine ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a role that will also encompass responsibilities for the Republic of Yemen.

According to Philippines News Agency, the nomination was made on June 3, with Balatbat’s documents submitted to the congressional Commission on Appointments (CA) on June 5. Pimentel, who serves as the CA assistant minority leader, stated in a news release on Sunday that the confirmation of ambassadorial postings and the promotion of senior foreign service officers are subject to CA approval.

Balatbat is currently serving as the Philippine ambassador to Lebanon and has previously held the position of executive director in the Department of Foreign Affairs’ Office of Middle East and African Affairs. He began his career in the foreign service in 1997. Currently, the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh is managed by Chargé d’Affaires Rommel Romato.

Saudi Arabia ranks as the third-largest source of remittances from overseas Filipino workers, following the United States and Singapore, as per data from Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. In 2023, more than 700,000 Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia sent approximately USD 2.1 billion (PHP 117 billion) back home through banking channels, with additional amounts transferred via non-bank routes or carried physically by returning workers.

Additionally, Pimentel disclosed that the CA has received appointment papers for Commodore Francisco Tagamolila Jr., who is nominated for promotion to rear admiral and is currently heading Naval Forces Western Mindanao in Zamboanga City. He also noted the re-nomination of Department of Migrant Workers Secretary Hans Leo Cacdac, who was bypassed in the last session.

The CA, which includes 12 members from both the House of Representatives and the Senate, with the Senate President acting as the ex-officio presiding officer, is not expected to act on new nominations or appointments until at least mid or late August. Congress adjourned on May 25 and is scheduled to resume on July 22.

Pimentel has called on the public to provide any relevant information or lodge complaints against nominees awaiting confirmation, emphasizing the importance of transparency and accountability in the confirmation process.