PHL Embassy Minister Patrick Chuasoto: Waiting for the Ambassador (Part 1)
By Cristina DC Pastor
Where to begin?
That Minister Patrick Chuasoto of the Philippine Embassy in Washington D.C., is a Mensan with an IQ of 153? Or that he is a shooting enthusiast who was once upon a time a member of the NRA?
These are only two of the fascinating facets of his personal history. Arguably the most important is that he is a rare Filipino Chinese career diplomat. Not too many Fil-chi Pinoys swoon over government service, and in the diplomatic establishment, they are usually perceived as the political ambassadors rewarded for their partisan philanthropy. Not Chuasoto. He had aspired to be in government from the time he graduated from college at the Ateneo University. He was one who saw public service as an opportunity to “serve someone greater than an individual or do something of greater value.”
An unconventional diplomat, Chuasoto, 50, is currently the deputy head of mission in the Philippine Embassy. He carries the title of minister and is called ‘CDA’ by his staff. As Chargé d’affaires, he is in charge of the post in the absence of an ambassador. While the next envoy to succeed Jose Cuisia Jr. is still being deliberated in Manila, Chuasoto represented President Rodrigo Duterte during the Jan 20th inauguration of Donald Trump. He, together with Communications Secretary Martin Andanar and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. formed the official delegation from the Philippines.
Assistant Secretary of State W. Patrick Murphy said he could sympathize with his friend Patrick. He jokingly said the Chargé d’affaires is one-and-a-half job. “You have a job without the influence.” Chuasoto recalled this remark with quiet laughter.
The eldest of four siblings of William Chuasoto Sr. of Tarlac and Alice Ang, Patrick Chuasoto ran the family’s neon signs supplies business after college, a management degree with honors tucked under his belt.
“They expected the eldest to take over. You don’t want to disappoint your parents,” he said in an interview with The FilAm at the Philippine Embassy in Washington D.C.
He was running the business when the Asian financial crisis of 1997 hit. The business folded. All of a sudden, there was an opportunity for him to revisit his first aspiration, which is to serve in government. It’s been 19 years since he joined the foreign service.
“I really wanted to join the government,” he recalled. “When I graduated in 1989 during the time of the Cory (Aquino) administration, I was about to join the newly formed Cabinet secretariat or the Presidential Management Staff.” He held off because “business was good at that time.”
As a diplomat, he found himself specializing in multilateral agencies, such as the UN. He became Alternate Representative to the United Nations Security Council in 2004-2005 when the Philippines became a member. In 2008, he was elected as chairman of the Committee on Conferences, the first and only Filipino diplomat to hold the post. He was elected Rapporteur of the powerful Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budget) for the 63rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly.
While in New York as a member of the Philippine Permanent Mission to the UN, Chuasoto found comfort returning to one of his passions: shooting. He would go down to Thunder Mountain in New Jersey for weekends of trap shooting.
“Trap shooting is when clay birds fly in any direction in front of you and…hahabulin mo,” explained Chuasoto who got acquainted with the sport at the age of 14 from his father. A recreational shooter, he owned no guns. He would simply rent them at the shooting range.
“Every weekend…that’s my release,” he said.
He became a member of the National Rifle Association while in New York, but did not renew his membership after he left. In D.C. area, he practices at Prince George’s shotgun range in Maryland.
Like his father, Chuasoto is an avid sportsman. He indulges in shooting (pistol, shotgun), archery, fencing and basketball. He was a member of the Philippine Shooting Team to the 1993 World Cup held in Korea and the 1994 Southeast Asia Shooting Championships held in Malaysia and won some medals.
The next envoy
So who will be the next ambassador? He quickly put on the tight lip and with an easy smile, replied, “I want to answer that question but I don’t know myself.”
We both laughed. He knew I wasn’t buying it, and I knew he wouldn’t name names but I continued to talk about certain personalities being dragged through the pyre of media speculation. The name of Marciano Paynor was announced by Duterte in August 2016, calling him a “seasoned foreign career (diplomat).” A lot has happened since, and word is that Duterte is now having second thoughts about Paynor – tight with former President Fidel Ramos — after Duterte and Ramos had a falling out.
Chuasoto listened decorously. He talked about the process. The process, he explained, would likely take a couple of months from the time a name is submitted to the Commission on Appointment.
“Let’s just say the nomination papers are received by the Commission on Appointment,” he said, “you count one month for the confirmation hearings and another month for the ‘agrement’ (to be approved).”