HON. ELMER GOZUN CATO
Charge d’Affaires, en pied, of the Embassy of the Republic of the Philippines in Baghdad
Elmer Gozun Cato assumed as Head of Post on 24 May 2015. He joined the Department of Foreign Affairs in 1998 after passing the Foreign Service Officers Examinations. Since then, he had served in various capacities in the Home Office in Manila, including as Special Assistant for National Security, Migrant Workers, Consular and Media Affairs of the Secretary of Foreign Affairs; Special Assistant for Special Projects of the Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs; Director for Intelligence; and Executive Director of the National Council on United Nations Peace Operations of the Philippines in Manila.
Of his and his office’s accomplishments in 2016, Honorable Elmer Gozun Cato professes: “Our efforts this year were focused on the third pillar of Philippine foreign policy—protecting the rights and promoting the welfare of Filipinos abroad. In 2015, illegal recruitment and human trafficking was the most serious challenge confronting the Embassy. This problem was particularly pronounced in Kurdistan where most of the more than 3,000 Filipinos in Iraq are working. The problem was challenging not only because those victimizing our kababayans were also Filipinos but also because the Filipino Community had the impression that some Embassy personnel were involved in these illegal activities. Through our joint efforts with Republic of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Erbil, we succeeded in disrupting the operations of human trafficking syndicates operating in Kurdistan and rescued and repatriated 30 trafficking victims. Two Filipinos wanted in the Philippines for grand-scale illegal recruitment and estafa were unmasked, arrested, jailed and deported. We also went after several foreign spa owners accused of exploiting and abusing our women and had their establishments shut down with the help of Kurdish authorities.”
Of the legacy he wishes to impart amongst his kabayans, Honorable Elmer Gozun Cato says: “I would like to be remembered as the go-to person to get the job done. As someone who helped make a difference in improving the lives of our people; someone our people could run to and count on.”
Photo by Alex Callueng; Photography Assistant – Bethoven Filomeno Special thanks to – Giordano, Nikon, Liali Jewellery, Lulu, Mitsubishi and Western Union.