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Handling of Correspondence

General Instructions

All incoming and outgoing correspondence must be handled carefully to prevent any damage. Notations made on correspondence are to be placed in the margins, not on the text of the documents. In stamping incoming correspondence, care must be taken not to obscure any part of the communication.

The use of pins for fastening materials for mailing is prohibited by postal regulations and must be avoided at all times. Clips, metal staples, rubber bands or tapes are to be used instead.

Despatches are to be mailed unfolded whenever possible, and placed inside envelopes in such a manner as to insure the best protection during transit. If a despatch must be folded for transmission to the Ministry, the fold must be inward so that the typewritten words are not exposed.

The name and address of the sending office are to be shown in the upper left-hand corner of each official envelope transmitted by pouch. The classification or administrative control designation is to be shown in the lower left-hand corner of each official envelope.

Promptness in Reply

Inquiries shall be answered promptly, if possible, on the day of receipt or within three days of receipt. If delay is necessary in order to make investigations, receipt of inquiry shall be acknowledged, and the inquirer shall be advised of the approximate date the information will be available. If the inquiry concerns information which the office is not permitted or not in a position to give, the inquiry shall be acknowledged; and if possible, the inquirer shall be referred to the proper source for the required information.

Transmittal by Diplomatic Pouch

(See also Part G, Transmission of Correspondence and Reports by Mail, Chapter 6, Revised Foreign Service Rules and Regulations (1962), pp. 12-14).

All official mail transmitted by foreign service establishments to the Ministry and vice-versa shall ordinarily be sent by diplomatic pouch.

All official mail transmitted by pouch to the Ministry shall be placed unfolded in a large envelope and addressed to "The Honorable, the Minister for Foreign Affairs". The envelope shall then be marked to indicate the nature of the papers enclosed.

Sending and Receipt of Pouch

All correspondence, papers and any other document sent to the Ministry through the diplomatic pouch must be listed in triplicate in a "pouch list". The list is signed by the diplomatic pouch assistant, and certified to as correct by the chief of mission or principal officer or his duly authorized representative, who should be a Foreign Service Officer, or in the absence of such officer, the next ranking officer. A copy of the pouch list shall remain in the post, while the original and a copy shall be placed inside the pouch, the former to be returned to the post of origin after it is checked and verified by the proper receiving officials in the Ministry.

The incoming diplomatic pouch shall not be opened except in the presence of the chief of mission or of the principal officer, or his authorized representative. The original list of contents shall be returned to the Ministry duly checked and verified as to its contents.

Except in cases of emergency, pouches should be opened only in the chancery or the consular office even when received on holidays or during weekends.

Abuse of Pouches

No letter, publication or article of any kind whatsoever except those mentioned below in "Transmission or Extra-Official Mail by Pouch" (Sec. 6, Part G, Chapter 6 of the Revised Foreign Service Rules and Regulations, 1962), may be accepted for transmittal by pouch, without previous and express authority of the Ministry. Should any official or person of whatever rank or position, request transmittal through the pouch of any article other than those mentioned in the official list, this provision of the Regulations may be shown to the party concerned as basis for refusal to accept the documents or articles. Any violation or irregularity discovered in the use of the pouch shall be reported promptly to the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Weight of Pouches

Officers of the Foreign Services shall observe Section 6, Article 160, "Regulations for Execution to the Universal Postal Convention" signed in Brussels on July 11, 1952 which provides that no sack in the international mail shall exceed 30 kilograms or 66 pounds in weight.

Non-Mailable Matter

The inclusion in diplomatic pouches of any of the following articles is strictly prohibited: poison, corrosive materials, explosives, cartridge or load shells, matches, inflammable materials liable to cause fire through friction or spontaneous combustion, fresh hides, polts, or any ill-smelling article, perishable matter likely to spoil, materials requiring special labels, such as "Fragile - this side up" or "Fragile - Liquid", and materials which may kill or in any way injure a person or damage, deface or injure the mail or other property.

Transmittal of Extra-Official Mail by Pouch

The following types of extra-official mail may be transmitted by diplomatic pouch:

1. In exceptional cases, the private correspondence of officers and Philippine employees of the Foreign Service and their immediate families, and the correspondence of other Philippine officials and employees of the Philippine Government stationed abroad, with members of their families in the Philippines, to be sent in unsealed envelopes;
2. Official mail of foreign governmentswhen specifically authorized by the Ministry subject to certain rules and regulations;
3. Under exceptional circumstances, when in the interest of Philippine trade, business letters from private individuals or firms to government officials in the Philippines to be sent in unsealed envelopes duly endorsed by the Chief of Mission or his duly authorized representative;
4. As a temporary exception under unusual circumstances or where local postal facilities are inadequate, letters of representatives of leading Philippine charitable institutions to be sent in unsealed envelopes;
5. One subscription for any Philippine newspaper by a ranking foreign service officer in the post in cases where a Philippine foreign service establishment is not a subscriber.

Extra-official mail transmitted by diplomatic pouch shall not contain enclosures for third persons, or any form of currency.

Transmittal by Open Mail

When urgent and important communication should reach the Ministry of Foreign Affairs earlier than the next pouch, mail of UNRESTRICTED or RESTRICTED classification may be sent in sealed envelopes by international air mail and registered or unregistered, depending on the importance of the contents.

Postage stamps purchased with official funds shall be used only on official correspondence and packages.

Surface Pouch

Books, any printed matter and other bulky materials should be sent by surface pouch.