The Ambassador of the Philippines to Australia, Her Excellency Ma. Hellen Barber De La Vega, presented her credentials to the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd), at a ceremony held on 29 November 2018 at the Government House in Canberra.
Ambassador De La Vega is a career officer of the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs.
In the Home Office, she served in various capacities, including as the Executive Director of the Office of Asia and Pacific (ASPAC) from August 2007 to September 2008; Senior Special Assistant to the Undersecretary for Policy from March 2014 to November 2015. During this period, she also served as the Philippine Representative to the ASEAN High Level Task Force that drafted the ASEAN Vision 2025.
Prior to her arrival in Australia, she served as the Assistant Secretary in the Office of ASEAN Affairs and the Director General of the ASEAN-Philippines National Secretariat from December 2015 to 04 September 2018. Part of her responsibility during this term is to organise and shepherd the substantive preparations for the Philippine hosting and Chairmanship of ASEAN in 2017 and ASEAN’s 50th Anniversary commemorative activities.
In the Foreign Service, her overseas postings include:
- – Philippine Consul General in Los Angeles, California, USA from November 2012 to March 2014;
- – Philippine Ambassador to the Republic of the Union of Myanmar from September 2009 to October 2012;
- – Deputy Chief of Mission, Minister Consul General at the Philippine Embassy in Beijing, People’s Republic of China from September 2008 to August 2009;
- – Consul, Philippine Consulate General in Los Angeles from March 2003 to August 2007;
- – First Secretary and Consul, Philippine Embassy in Tokyo, Japan from August 2001 to March 2003;
- – Second Secretary and Consul, Philippine Embassy in Madrid, Spain from January 1994 to August 1996; and
- – Third Secretary and Vice Consul at the Philippine Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia from August 1990 to December 1993.
She graduated in 1982 with Cum Laude honors at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila with a Bachelor’s Degree in Asian Studies. She was a recipient of a Fellowship Program on Investments Promotion from the Belgian Government, and took her Foreign Service Training Course under the auspices of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. She obtained her Master’s Degree on International Public Policy from the Paul Nitz School of Advanced International Studies of the John Hopkins University in Washington, D.C. as a Freeman Fellow.
Ambassador De La Vega succeeded former Ambassador Minda Cruz who has retired from public service.