Why and How Diwata Came About

By: Philippine Resources July 10, 2023

by Ambassador Delia Domingo Albert

On 3 March 1995, President Fidel V. Ramos signed into law Republic Act 7942 known as the Philippine Mining Act of 1885.  It is described as " an Act instituting a new system of mineral resources exploration, development, utilization and conservation".  In the same year, the President assigned me as the Philippine Ambassador to the Commonwealth of Australia to prepare the first State Visit of an incumbent Philippine President to that country. and with a clear mandate to implement the newly signed Defence Cooperation Agreement between the Philippines and Australia and to launch the Mining Act to promote an industry which had just been opened to foreign investments.  President Ramos considered Australia as an ideal partner country in both strategic areas of cooperation.

In fulfillment of my dual mandate from the President to strengthen the bilateral defence cooperation, I personally awarded the 3,800 Philippine Liberation Medal to servicemen who participated in the liberation campaign for the Philippines. I actively participated in the activities of the Minerals Development Council, which introduced me to the major stakeholders in the mining industry who invited me to visit various mining pits which practiced responsible mining.

While serving as Ambassador to Australia I was tasked by President Ramos to serve as the Secretary General of the 4th APEC Leaders Meeting which was hosted and chaired by the Philippines and held in Subic and Manila in 1996.  Both countries were co-founders of APEC which focused on promoting economic relations among the member economies in the Asia -Pacific region.

On completion of my assignment in Australia President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo appointed me as Undersecretary for International Economic Relations at the Department of Foreign Affairs.  However, my term was cut short with my promotion as the first woman career diplomat to serve as Secretary of Foreign affairs.

Following the  end of my assignment as Secretary of Foreign Affairs I was tasked to continue promoting investments in the mining industry as the President's Special Envoy to represent the country in various international conferences on the mining industry being held in countries with strong mining industries such as Australia, Canada, the United  States, South Africa, China, Japan and several countries in Europe with a long history in various industries relevant to the industry, including machine manufacturers as well as banking institutions.

To assist me in carrying the President’s mandate, I organized the Minerals Development Council in the Office of the President with "development" as the main operative word.  The Council members were senior officers from the relevant Departments identified to implement the Mining Act through the Minerals Action Plan.  I invited the Chamber of Mines to be a member of the Council representing the private sector which proved to be very useful to the work of the Council.

In 2005, I resumed my diplomatic service as Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany where I served until my retirement from government service. in 2010.   On my return to the Philippines, I was invited by Washington Sycip, the founder of SGV/Ernst and Young, to join the company as a Senior Policy Advisor with a mandate "to continue serving the country" by continuing my work in economic diplomacy with focus on promoting foreign investments in the industry with foreign investors.

The new political leadership had disbanded the Minerals   Development Council and replaced it with the Mining Industry Coordinating Committee dropping "development" and replacing it with "coordinating".  This led to a slow down of investment in the industry.

Challenged by the slackening situation, I decided to re-group the former members of the Minerals Development Council attended only by representatives from the private sector.  The initiative was welcomed by Washington Sycip to regroup the Council with the private sector.  Interestingly, the meeting was attended mainly by women professionals from the industry who worked as geologists, mining engineers, lawyers, communication officers and other administrative officers.  We were joined by the former Secretary of DENR Horace Ramos, the President of the Chamber of Mines, Philip Romualdez. and mining lawyer Leo Dominguez.  

At that meeting the attendees decided to form an organization that will provide a "human face" to the mining industry by focusing on projects to help indigenous women in mining and other areas.  After having lengthy and lively constructive deliberations the group enthusiastically agreed to name the organization after the mythical guardians and goddesses of the mountains known as “diwata’s”.  On that day, "Diwata:  Women in Resource Development” was founded.


About the Author:

Ambassador Delia Domingo Albert founded Diwata-Women in Resource Development in 2012.  

She is the first woman career diplomat to become Secretary (Minister) of Foreign Affairs in Asia. She previously served as Special Envoy for Mining and chaired the Minerals Development Council.  Currently, she is Senior Adviser to SGV & Co/Ernst & Young Philippines.


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