Former Secretary Albert del Rosario, 83

‘He personified the highest level of statesmanship, integrity, and love of country.’ U.S. State Department video

Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario —a key figure in the filing of a landmark ruling on the South China Sea that brought Beijing before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA)— passed away at 83 on April 18.

In a statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said del Rosario died while en route to San Francisco in the United States.

“I extend my deepest condolences to the loved ones of Secretary Albert F. Del Rosario. He was a consummate diplomat and an inspiring leader who led the DFA with integrity and unwavering commitment to public service. You will be missed, Mr. Secretary,” said DFA Secretary Enrique Manalo.

Del Rosario is described by the DFA as a “staunch advocate of protecting and advancing national security and promoting the rights and welfare of Filipinos both in the Philippines and abroad.”

He served as the DFA Secretary from February 2011 to March 2016 under the administration of former President Benigno Aquino III.

During his time, Manila, in 2013, brought China before the Hague-based court and formally challenged the validity of its nine-dash line in the South China Sea (SCS). Three years later, the Philippines won its case after the PCA ruled that China’s claims under the invisible demarcation are illegal.

Del Rosario stepped down from his post as DFA secretary due to health reasons but even after this, he continued to champion the Philippines’ sovereignty and rights over the West Philippine Sea.

Up to his death, he chaired the independent research organization Stratbase Albert del Rosario Institute (ADRi), which provided the public an in-depth analysis of issues influencing the country and the Indo-Pacific.

In a statement, the Stratbase ADRi said del Rosario has been a “leader who personified the highest level of statesmanship, integrity, and love of country”.

“He has been a champion of democratic values and a rules-based international order to sustain lasting peace, security, and prosperity for all,” it said.

“He has fought for an independent foreign policy that prioritizes the interests of the country and of the Filipino people. He believed that diplomacy is a great equalizer in international affairs and that each state had an equal voice in the global community regardless of their political, economic, or military capabilities,” it added.

In a separate tweet, Japanese Ambassador Koshikawa Kazuhiko sent his condolences to del Rosario’s kin, saying his contributions to the Philippine-Japan relations and leadership to uphold the rule of law in the sea “will never be forgotten”.

Del Rosario had also served as the ambassador to the United States from 2001 to 2006.

Prior to entering public service, he was on the Board of Directors of over 50 firms and his business career has spanned the insurance, banking, real estate, shipping, telecommunications, advertising, consumer products, retail, pharmaceutical and food industries. — PNA

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