What is DFA – Department of Foreign Affairs

As more and more Filipinos leave the country to work or migrate overseas, the Philippine government must do everything in its power to protect their rights and welfare. The same goes for Filipinos traveling abroad and Foreigners visiting the country. With that said, the Philippine government established the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to handle foreign relations and policy in the country. To learn more about this agency, keep reading as we share DFA’s history, mandate, functions, objectives, programs, and services.

Also Read: Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) – Home of the OFWs

After the foundation of the First Philippine Republic, the DFA was one of the initial departments established by the government. The agency was mandated to protect the welfare and interests of Filipino citizens abroad. Moreover, it’s in charge of consular posts and diplomatic missions and handles bilateral relations with other nations. The DFA also collaborates with other government agencies and foreign organizations to promote the country’s interests. Therefore, the DFA is an essential department composed of several offices and bureaus.

dfa department of foreign affairs philippines

What is the Department of Foreign Affairs

Commonly known as DFA, the Department of Foreign Affairs is a government agency in the Philippines that implements foreign policy and enacts foreign relations. The Department is vital in maintaining and improving the country’s national security. It promotes and aims to achieve economic security. The DFA’s primary goal is to protect the country’s territorial integrity, sovereignty, and national interest.

In addition, its mandate is to protect the rights and welfare of Filipinos abroad. The DFA will also encourage Filipinos abroad to contribute to national development by promoting a positive image of their motherland and increasing the understanding of Philippine culture globally to gain mutual-benefit relations with other nations. Its head is the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, nominated by the President of the Philippines and a member of the Cabinet.


The history of DFA correlates with the Republic of the Philippines. Over a century ago, the Department had a promising start. In June 1898, President Emilio Aguinaldo assigned Apolinario Mabini as the first Secretary of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of the Philippines, several days after the country gained independence at Kawit, Cavite. It was one of the first government departments established after the foundation of the First Philippine Republic.

When former President Aguinaldo realized the essence of the new government’s recognition internationally, he appointed Mabini to build diplomatic relations with other countries. From 1898 to 1946, the United States colonized the Philippines. Then, the Japanese occupied the country from 1942 to 1844. On July 4, 1946, the Philippines regained independence and total control of diplomatic relations and foreign affairs. The enactment of Commonwealth Act No. 732 led to the establishment of the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Afterward, President Manual Roxas issued Executive Order No. 18, funding the establishment and operation of Foreign Service and the DFA. The Department’s primary tasks include assisting post-war rehabilitation, developing investment promotion policies, and creating diplomatic relations with friendly nations. President Elpidio Quirino also passed the Foreign Service Act of 1952 to improve the Philippines’ relationship with Asian neighbors and global linkages.

From 1965 to 1968, President Ferdinand Marcos innovated foreign policy, turning it into the protection of national dignity and territorial integrity, and focused on improving regional collaboration and cooperation. As of 2016, the Department has established five (5) satellite offices in the National Capital Region (NCR) and around 21 regional consulate offices in provinces, offering convenient consular services to all Filipinos.


The DFA envisions a resilient foreign service to make the Philippines stronger.


The Department is in charge of promoting and protecting the interest of the Philippines in the international community.

Core Values

The core values of the DFA are excellence, integrity, patriotism, professionalism, and service.


Under the 1987 Philippine Consitution, below is the frame of the Philippine Foreign Policy:

  • Article II, Section 2: “The Philippines renounces war as an instrument of national policy, adopts the generally accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the land, and adheres to the policy of peace, equality, and justice.”
  • Article II, Section 7: “The State shall pursue an independent foreign policy. In its relations with other states, the paramount consideration shall be national sovereignty, territorial integrity, national interest, and the right to self-determination.”

Also known as the Philippine Foreign Service Act of 1991, the Republic Act No 7157 mandates the DFA to enact the following pillars of the Philippine Foreign Policy:

  • Preservation and enhancement of national security
  • Promotion and attainment of economic security
  • Protection of the rights and promotion of the welfare and interests of Filipinos overseas

Functions & Objectives

The DFA should also fulfill the following:

  • Help reinforce national security and protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity
  • Aid in the national effort to maintain development and enhance the competitiveness of the Philippines in the global market
  • Enhance Philippine culture international awareness to promote mutually beneficial relations with other countries.
  • Refine the performance of the Department to enhance and expand financial, human, technological, and other resources.
  • Safeguard the welfare and rights of Filipinos living abroad and encourage them to contribute to national progress.
  • Represent the Philippines in a positive view

Organizational Structure

Apart from the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, which heads the agency, the Department has the following undersecretaries:

  • Undersecretary for Administration
  • Undersecretary for Bilateral Relations and ASEAN Affairs
  • Undersecretary for Civilian Security and Consular Affairs
  • Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs
  • Undersecretary for Multilateral Affairs and International Economic Relations
department of foreign affairs dfa logo

DFA Attached Agencies

Foreign Service Institute (FSI)

On December 9, 1967, the enactment of Presidential Decree No. 1060 and Republic Act No. 7157 (Philippine Foreign Service Act) resulted in the foundation of the Foreign Service Institute (FSI). This agency acts as the center of professionalism and development of the DFA and other foreign service posts. It performs applicable training programs and handles research and policy studies on foreign policy and international relations. FSI also provides DFA with essential institutional support.

Technical Cooperation Council of the Philippines (TCCP)

The Technical Cooperation Council of the Philippines (TCCP) foundation was possible when former President Fidel Ramos signed Executive Order No. 17 on September 1, 1992. The government created it to take over the functions of the Technical Assistance Council and the Inter-Agency Technical Committee on Technical Cooperation Among Developing Countries (TCDC).

The TCCP is responsible for developing and performing technical cooperation programs in line with the Philippines’ commitment to the UN Resolution on Technical and Economical Cooperation Among Developing Countries (TCDC-ECDC). Moreover, the agency assists in reinforcing the country’s competitiveness in socio-economic development by training courses.

UNESCO Philippine National Commission

Also referred to as UNACOM or PH NatCom, the foundation of UNESCO Philippine National Commission is a way for the country to commemorate its allegiance to UNESCO. The agency acts as an advisor and liaison that will connect the efforts of various partners in the Philippines to the corresponding cultural, educational, and scientific activities and studies created and handled by UNESCO. Apart from that, UNACOM partakes in the promulgation of information regarding the projects of UNESCO and the policy feedback development.

DFA Programs & Services

Authentication of Documents

One of the services DFA offers is the authentication of documents. Under this service, the DFA will authenticate a public document’s origin by verifying the signature’s authenticity and the legal authority who signed the document. However, it does not guarantee that the public document’s content is accurate. If using it abroad, an apostille applies.

Meanwhile, the document no longer requires legalization by the foreign Consulate or Embassy if the country of destination is a State Party to the Apostille Convention, excluding Greece, Germany, Finland, and Austria.

Consular Records

Another service that DFA offers is processing consular records. The Office of Consular Affairs Consular Records Division (OCA-CRD) handles the applications for overseas events involving Filipinos, such as birth, marriage, and death. Furthermore, the OCA-CRD is a repository of information between the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) and the Philippine Embassies/Consulates. Through this service, Filipinos can register the following:

  • Registration of Report of Birth (ROB)
  • Registration of Report of Marriage (ROM)
  • Registration of Report of Death (ROD)

Securing Transmittal Details of ROB, ROM, or ROD registered abroad

If already registered at the Philippine Embassies/Consulates abroad, send a copy of the registered ROB, ROM, or ROD to the designated email addresses based on the country to secure the transmittal details (Reference Number, Transmittal Date, and Despatch Number).

Philippine Passport Application

The Republic of the Philippines owns the Philippine Passport. If requested, return the Philippine Passport to an authorized government representative. When filling out the passport application form, ensure the provided information is true and accurate. It’s illegal to provide fake information and documentary requirements.

Philippine Visa Application for Foreigners

Foreigners who wish to enter the country should obtain a Philippine Visa, serving as a travel document endorsed by a consular officer of the Philippine Embassy/Consulate overseas. It indicates a properly inspected visa application, and the bearer is permitted to come to the Philippines to request approval to enter the country at the entry ports from the Philippine Immigration authorities.

On the other hand, the issued visa doesn’t guarantee that the bearer can automatically enter the Philippines since the immigration officials at the entry ports supervise the entry of foreign nationals into the country.


As the country’s pillar of foreign policy, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) connects the Philippines worldwide. The Department promotes and maintains a respectable image of the Philippines to protect its national identity, sovereignty, and security. Whether in the Philippines or overseas, the DFA will provide Filipinos with necessary travel programs and foreign services, allowing them to look for the most beneficial opportunities for themselves and their families. Thus, the programs and services will benefit Filipinos locally and globally.

error: Content is protected !!