Most Influential Filipinos in the Gulf – Charge d’Affaires en pied, Adelio Cruz
It takes a rare breed of man to actually go willingly into a warzone to facilitate the rescue of others. Charge d’ Affaires, en Pied Adelio Cruz is one of those exceptional few. He has dodged bullets, been held at gunpoint, lived in challenging conditions, while providing leadership to a Filipino community located in one of the most politically-tense environs in the region.
The Philippine diplomat to war-torn Libya – based in Tripoli, he arrived in the country in 2014 as Head of the Philippines’ Rapid Response Team (RRT) composed of different government branches including the Department of Interior and Local Government-Philippine National Police (DILG-PNP), the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA). His main responsibility is to lead the safe and efficient repatriation of Filipinos from the country. As Head of Post, he is also tasked to continue to enhance bilateral relations with Libya and seven other countries namely, Algeria, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger and Tunisia.
To date, the Embassy has repatriated 5,498 Filipinos. Approximately 3,119 still remain in the country.
Cruz, a well-loved figure who served for four years in the emirates as former Consul General at the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi reflects on his experiences and shares, “Retired Ambassador Libran Cabactulan, my former boss in Abu Dhabi once said, ‘In any organization, you are only as strong as your weakest link.’ As soon as I arrived in Libya, I hit the ground running. My learning curve about the country’s history and ongoing internal conflict went vertical. I was blessed because my RRT colleagues, who remained in the country until the end of 2014 were instrumental in helping the Embassy plan, organize and mobilize multiple repatriations throughout Libya, often in the line of fire or possible harm while rescuing Filipinos in distress.” He furthers, “The continued success of our repatriation is due mainly to the team effort from my colleagues at the Embassy. We also have the full support of the DFA, DOLE, OWWA and the POEA.”
Asked how he was able to take such a post that puts his personal safety at risk, he says, “I am sure the rest of my colleagues share the same sentiment when I say our families constantly worry about our safety.” He adds, “But in life, there are few occasions when civil servants are given the rare honor and privilege to serve their country and their fellowmen under ‘very challenging’ conditions. Ensuring the safety and welfare of our kababayans abroad, after all, is one of the three pillars of the Philippine Foreign Service.”