Ramos-Shahani resigns as UNESCO Philippines secretary-general

MANILA, Philippines – UNESCO National Commission of the Philippines (UNACOM) Secretary General Lila Ramos-Shahani resigned from her post, following what she called the "routine bypassing" of her office by "certain elements" in the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

"After 12 years in the Philippine government – having served [former presidents] Cory [Aquino], PNoy [Benigno Aquino III] and [President Rodrigo] Duterte –  I have now made the difficult decision to step down as Secretary-General of the UNESCO National Commission of the Philippines at the Department of Foreign Affairs," Ramos-Shahani announced in a public Facebook post on Tuesday night, October 22. 

Ramos-Shahani, who also holds the rank of DFA assistant secretary, said her reasons for doing so were "deep and complex."

A copy of her resignation letter obtained by Rappler showed Ramos-Shahani tendered her resignation to Duterte last October 17. 

In her letter, Ramos-Shahani, described working with UNACOM under the DFA as "challenging but in many way, deeply rewarding." She said she and her staff were "proud of what we accomplished, even as much remains to be done."

As she resigned from her post as UNACOM secretary general, Ramos-Shahani will also no longer serve as assistant secretary in the DFA. 

Why she resigned: Ramos-Shahani's resignation comes after she said her office was repeatedly bypassed by "certain elements" in the DFA which she described as "unacceptable."

"Regrettably, the routine bypassing – and therefore disrespect – of my office (despite our official mandate) by certain elements in the Department is unacceptable to me. I will therefore no longer be able to continue in this position," read her letter. 

As Secretary General of UNACOM, Ramos-Shahani was in charge of overseeing the Philippines’ international commitment to UNESCO through dissemination of public information and giving policy feedback, among others. 

Ramos-Shahani served in her post as UNACOM Secretary General since October 2016. 

Ramos-Shahani thanked her UNACOM staff for their "unwavering professionalism, kindness, and courtesy" shown throughout her post.

"Maraming salamat po sa inyong lahat! (Thank you very much to you all!) I honor all you good people in government," she said on Facebook. 

"Above all, I am deeply grateful to you Mr President, for having given me the opportunity to serve this country," she wrote in her letter. 

No longer holding her post, Ramos-Shahani said she would continue contributing to issues she cared about outside the DFA. 

She said "I am now looking forward to working in spaces that respect my intellectual contributions and creative ideas. It is time for me to reclaim my voice, and work in worlds that appreciate my insights." – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs, the overseas Filipino workers, and elections. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.