Ex-SFA Albert Del Rosario passes away

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FORMER Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario, who steered the Philippines in securing a landmark maritime legal victory in the South China Sea, has passed away. He was 83.

The business group Management Association of the Philippines announced his passing today, April 18. Del Rosario has been a member of the business group for 45 years before he became a diplomat.

The DFA said Del Rosario died while en route to San Francisco.

“I extend my deepest condolences to the loved ones of Secretary Albert 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,” DFA Secretary Enrique Manalo tweeted.

[FILE] The case regarding the Philippines and China on the South China Sea is heard at the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) at The Hague, the Netherlands, in July 2015. The tribunal ruled in a sweeping decision that China has no legal basis for claiming much of the South China Sea and had aggravated the seething regional dispute with its large-scale land reclamation and construction of artificial islands that destroyed coral reefs and the natural condition of the disputed areas. Clockwise from top left: Registrar and PCA Senior Legal Counsel Judith Levine; Judge Stanislaw Pawlak; Professor Alfred H. A. Soons; Judge Thomas A. Mensah (Presiding Arbitrator); Judge Jean-Pierre Cot; Judge Rudiger Wolfrum; PCA Senior Legal Counsel Garth Schofield; former Secretary for Foreign Affairs of the Philippines Albert F. del Rosario; former Solicitor General Florin T. Hilbay, Counsel for the Philippines; Paul S. Reichler; Professor Philippe Sands; Professor Bernard H. Oxman; Professor Alan E. Boyle; Lawrence H. Martin.
[FILE] Former Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario, second from right, stands beside former ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, second from left, and Antonio Carpio, left, senior associate justice, Supreme Court of the Philippines, during a forum on the South China Sea in metropolitan Manila, Philippines on Friday, July 12, 2019. The event also marks the 3rd anniversary of the arbitration ruling in The Hague by the UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) granting the Philippines the exclusive right to fish within its Exclusive Economic Zone or EEZ, an area 200 nautical miles from the country’s baselines. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

Del Rosario served as the foreign secretary of President Benigno Aquino III from 2011 to 2016.

During his almost five-year stint as the country’s top diplomat, Del Rosario pushed for a very risky move in questioning the legality of China’s claim over the South China Sea before an international court. With the imprimatur of then President Aquino, Del Rosario brought together the best legal luminaries of the country, including former Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, and tapped international law experts to bring China before an international tribunal.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in favor of the Philippine government, largely invalidating China’s nine-dash line claim. 

The DFA said it “mourns” the passing of Del Rosario whom it described 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 is survived by his spouse, Gretchen del Rosario, and his children.

Image credits: DFA, Permanent Court of Arbitration via AP