The online news portal of TV5
MANILA, Philippines - Filipino-Chinese businessman Domingo Lee has formally asked President Benigno Aquino III to withdraw his nomination as the country's ambassador to China.
In his letter to Aquino, Lee cited "national interest" as reason for his request after he was bypassed by the Commission on Appointments thrice, Communications Development Secretary Ramon Carandang said. The request was accepted by the President.
"The protracted confirmation process is not something the country can afford in light of pressing issues with China," Lee said in his letter, which was read by Carandang in a press briefing Thursday afternoon.
Lee said the "rigors of the confirmation process had deeply affected" him and his family.
Indeed, lost in the flurry of events surrounding the Philippines' standoff with China at the Scarborough Shoal is this one crucial detail: President Aquino has failed to install an ambassador in Beijing ever since he became President.
Lee acknowledged that without an ambassador to Beijing, "much of the diplomatic work has been placed on the shoulders of the President."
Carandang said Lee's act of sacrifice was "commendable" - describing the former ambassador-designate as "culturally and politically attuned to developments in China."
The Beijing post was vacated soon after Mr. Aquino assumed office in June 2010 because the then ambassador Francisco Benedicto, a political appointee, was among those replaced.
Since then, Charge d' Affaires Alex Chua had manned the fort in the Philippine embassy.
Since then, major controversies besides the maritime disputes have arisen in Manila’s relations with Beijing, among them: the August 2010 botched hostage rescue that cost the lives of eight Hong Kong tourists at the Luneta; the uproar over Manila’s deportation to the mainland of Taiwanese swindling suspects; the executions of several Filipino drug mules in China.
Through all that, Manila has had no man in Beijing with the full mandate of an ambassador.
Lee's letter was dated April 12 but was received only by the Palace on April 17.
Earlier, Aquino said he is likely to appoint a new ambassador to China.
The President said the next ambassador to Beijing must "possess the necessary skills" to address issues such as the tensions in Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal).
The recent tensions in Panatag Shoal had resulted in a stalemate between the Philippines and China.
China claims all of the West Philippine Sea as a historic right, even those well within the country's 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone recognized by the United Nations.