The Foreign Service Institute (FSI) has launched its pilot run of the training program, “Course on Diplomacy and Digital Disruption,” which was conducted online from 06 to 10 December 2021. The Department of Foreign Affairs’ (DFA) personnel from the Home Office, consular offices, and Foreign Service Posts participated in the Course. They were joined by two (2) representatives from FSI’s strategic partner, the National Institute for Diplomacy and International Relations of Cambodia. A total of 31 participants successfully completed the Course.

A group photo of the Course participants with Dr. Sol Iglesias from the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman and FSI organizers.

The 12-hour training Course discussed the relationship between diplomacy and digital disruption, particularly its application, risks/challenges, and possibilities for its impactful influence on the various Philippine foreign policy pillars: public and cultural diplomacy, economic diplomacy, assistance-to-nationals (ATN)/consular services, and national security.  FSI continues to enhance the competencies of Philippine Foreign Service Personnel to understand global megatrends, technological disruption, and how these affect the conduct of diplomacy. This Course aimed to enable them to strategize and better promote and protect the interest of the country, sustaining diplomatic work amidst abrupt and continuous technological advancements around the world.

Former Consular General to San Francisco, USA, Henry S. Bensurto, Jr. (Resource Person), shares his experiences on the nexus of diplomacy and digital disruption, including the launch of the Spark Connect Empower (SCE) Movement which aims to uplift Filipinos.

The Course highlighted the need to use these digital tools correctly and safely. The existing cyber risks and trends pose a serious threat to national security, and its mitigation may begin with individuals by combating fake news and misinformation through fact-checking as well as to practice the “30 Ways to Love Yourself Online” as shared by Mr. Cleo R. Martinez of the National Privacy Commission. It is a beginner’s guide to personal data privacy, which includes tips on how to use stronger passwords, practice cautiousness on malicious links and websites, and secure important or confidential documents stored online.

Ms. Darell Ann Artates of the DFA-Office of the Secretary, meanwhile, said: “We must seriously look into improving our operational backbone so we can make digital work for us.” 

The Course nudged the participants’ creativity through an Idea Generation Exercise where participants shared their key takeaways and innovative ideas for the betterment of their respective services or office systems. It was also an opportunity to appreciate the collective efforts which led to what the DFA or the governments in general are now, and how digital tools have been incorporated in the delivery of services to the people. 

Director Rowena Pangilinan-Daquipil of the Office of ASEAN Affairs (Participant) representing Group 2 as they pitched their group output for the Idea Generation Exercise where they conceptualized a mobile app called “Kabayan Abroad”.
Gallery of speakers and organizers of the Course on Diplomacy and Digital Disruption.

From left to right:

1st row: Dr. Sol Iglesias (UP), Ms. Darell Ann R. Artates (DFA – OSEC); Ms. Raisa A. Mabayo (DFA – OPCD); Ms. Vikki Antoinette G. Luta (EON, Inc.); Prof. Rachel E. Khan (UP);

2nd row: Assec. Eduardo Martin R.  Meñez (DFA – OPCD); Ms. Bien Janine C. Balocating (DFA – OUMAIER); Ms. Janet S. Cuenca (DTI); Ms. Cristina Amor L. Maclang and Mr. Bradley Eric Geiser (Digital Pilipinas);

3rd row: Assec. Eric Gerardo E. Tamayo (DFA – OUMAIER); Mr. Lorenzo Cris D. Vidal (DFA – OUMWA); Amb. Enrico T. Fos (Norway PE); Assec. Senen T. Mangalile (DFA – OCA); Mr. Levi Anthony B. Malaylay (DFA – OUCSCA);

4th row: Ms. Mary Rose E. Magsaysay (CICC); Mr. Cleo R. Martinez (NPC); Mr. Alexander Joseph A. Estomo (DFA – OUCSCA); Hon. Henry S. Bensurto, Jr. (DFA); Ms. Maria Olive E. Taclan (FSI);

Last row: Ms. Dulce Amor N. Fortunado (FSI); Ms. Jazmin Marie B. Marchan (FSI); Mr. Mark Moses Pagdonsolan (FSI); and Ms. Bernadette E. Cordero (FSI).