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MANILA, Philippines - Cambodia’s ambassador to the Philippines Hos Serythonh has been recalled by his home office following a nasty public exchange over the absence of a communiqué at the last Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) foreign ministers’ summit in Phnom Penh, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Friday.
DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez told reporters that the Philippines did not request for the ambassador’s recall after the public tiff even as its own note verbale to Cambodia only sought to clarify the ambassador’s statement. He said the department received a note verbale from Cambodia’s embassy and the foreign ministry about the ambassador’s recall and his replacement by another.
“This is a prerogative of a sending state to recall or to reassign its ambassador. Cambodia is an ASEAN member and our friend, and we hope that the new Cambodian ambassador will reinforce the friendship that exists between the two countries,” he said.
No explanation was given for the recall, Hernandez said, but he had learned that Hos would leave the country on August 17.
DFA Secretary Albert del Rosario had the same sentiment. “I don’t think it (the recall) affects the bilateral relationship at all. I like to think that we are looking at a healthy bilateral relations with Cambodia."
Asked if he thought the ambassador was acting on his own or if it was cleared by his home office, Del Rosario said: “I don’t think an ambassador can act on his own.”
In a letter to the editor published by the Philippine Star, Cambodia’s ambassador lambasted Foreign Undersecretary Erlinda Basilio for her piece entitled “Why There Was No ASEAN Joint Communique” that came out in several news outfits.
Hos accused the Philippines of engaging in “dirty politics” and called Basilio’s account of what transpired in the ASEAN Ministers Meeting (AMM) “fiction.”
In her piece, Basilio said Cambodia as AMM chair failed to unite the regional bloc in issuing a joint communique, a first in ASEAN’s history. The communique is traditionally released after the meeting.
Right now, the department is in the process of accepting the next ambassador.
According to Hernandez, diplomats are recalled on a variety of reasons.
“Sometimes we think he would be better off in another place because his expertise is necessary in another place so we recall him and then assign him to another area,” he said.
“Sometimes we would recall an ambassador because his or her performance in that country is not very effective anymore,” he added.