Ambassador of Sri Lanka to the Philippines, Aruni Ranaraja was conferred the Order of Sikatuna, with the rank of Grand Cross (Datu), gold distinction by President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Roa Duterte on 18 June 2019 during a farewell call paid by the Ambassador at the Malacañan Palace in Manila, the Foreign Ministry said today.
The Order of Sikatuna was established in 1953 and is conferred by the President of the Philippines to give recognition to individuals who have rendered exceptional and meritorious services to the Republic of the Philippines and to diplomats, officials and nationals of foreign States who have rendered conspicuous services in fostering, developing, and strengthening relations between their country and the Philippines as well as personnel of the Department of Foreign Affairs, both in the Home Office and in the Foreign Office.
With the rank of Grand Cross (Datu), gold distinction, the Order of Sikatuna has been awarded to Ambassador Ranaraja in recognition of her major contributions in further strengthening the cordial relations between Sri Lanka and the Philippines as well as her role in facilitating the State Visit of President Maithripala Sirisena to the Philippines in January 2019 which opened a new chapter of enhanced and robust relations between the two countries.
During her tenure, Ambassador Ranaraja played a key role in elevating Sri Lanka-Philippines relations to new heights, particularly in the fields of agriculture, defense, higher education and tourism after assumption of duties as the Ambassador in the Philippines in 2015. She also initiated a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for Political Consultation, which was signed in February 2016, a significant milestone in the diplomatic relations between Sri Lanka and the Philippines. Two rounds of political consultations were held in 2016 and 2018, which has paved way to consolidate the existing friendly relations between the two countries.
Ambassador Ranaraja was also instrumental for the fruitful outcomes of the State Visit undertaken by President Maithripala Sirisena to the Philippines in January 2019.
Ambassador Ranaraja who is a member of the 1996 batch of the Sri Lanka Foreign Service has served in different capacities at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Sri Lanka’s Diplomatic Missions. Before her appointment as Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to the Philippines, she was the Director General for Africa Division in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She has also worked at the Embassies of Sri Lanka in Belgium and the European Union, Thailand, Russian Federation, and Italy.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs congratulated Ambassador Ranaraja on the prestigious achievement and commended her contributions towards uplifting Sri Lanka-Philippines relations.