A farewell tribute to Del Rosario?

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Albert del Rosario, SONA 2013The fourth State-of- the- Nation Address by President Aquino is notable for the number of issues that he didn’t touch.


He did not mention anything about the Freedom of Information Bill which he promised to support when he was campaigning for the presidency.

He did not say anything about China and Taiwan.

The once vibrant relations with Taiwan took a dip with the killing of a Taiwanese fisherman by a Philippine Coast Guard at the disputed waters in Balintang Channel last May 9. Taiwan has suspended the hiring of Filipino workers pending the President’s decision on the report of the investigation of the incident which had been with him since June 11.

Last January, the Philippines took China to the United Nations arbitral court over the latter’s nine-dash line map which encroaches on Philippine territory. Relations with one of the world’s economic power is at its lowest in its 38-year history.

The President also did not allot even a minute of his almost two-hour speech for the Overseas Filipino Workers, whose remittances are one of the major reasons why the Philippines is considered a bright spot in the global economy.

However, he did mention about OFW in his lavish praise of Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario for something the latter did more than two years ago: “May mga katulad ni Kalihim Albert del Rosario. Kung ibabase sa tradisyon, ang unang opisyal na biyahe sa labas ng Pilipinas ng isang kalihim ay sa mga bansang may matibay at mapayapa tayong ugnayan. Ngunit pagkatapos niyang manumpa bilang Foreign Affairs Secretary, kumuha lang yata ng pambihis, lumipad agad si Secretary del Rosario patungong Libya; dumaan sa mahigit dalawampung checkpoint sa gitna ng putukan, at pinamunuan ang paglikas ng mahigit dalawampung libong Pilipino na naipit sa kaguluhan sa Libya.

“Baka po magulat kayo pag narinig ninyo kung taga-saang bansa ang mga banyagang nakiangkas pa sa ating paglilikas. Iba na nga po ang Pilipinas ngayon: Imbes na tayo lang ang parating tinutulungan, ngayon, kaya na rin nating tumulong sa mga dayuhan.

“Kung tutuusin, maaari namang tanggihan ni Secretary Albert ang pagtatrabaho sa gobyerno. Isa siyang respetado’t matagumpay na negosyante, at tiyak na mas magiging komportable siya sa pribadong buhay. Dati na rin po nating siyang nakiambag bilang ambassador sa Amerika. Puwede naman siyang nadismaya nang pababain siya sa puwesto, dahil tinutulan niya ang pagdeklara ng State of Emergency ng nakaraang administrasyon noong 2006.

“Pero tinawag po natin siya para bumalik, at tumugon siya. “Ngayon po, nagbibigay siya ng mas malaki pang ambag bilang kalihim. Handa niyang ilagay ang sarili sa panganib, dahil alam niyang walang ibang sasaklolo sa Pilipino kundi ang kapwa rin Pilipino. Sa patuloy mong paninindigan para sa ating karapatan, saludo po ako sa inyo, Secretary Albert del Rosario.”

(“There are those like Secretary Albert del Rosario. Going by tradition, a Secretary’s first official travel outside the Philippines would be to a country with whom we enjoy strong and peaceful relations. But only a few hours after taking his oath as Foreign Affairs Secretary, Secretary del Rosario only took the time to possibly pack a change of clothes before immediately flying to Libya. He went through more than twenty checkpoints in the middle of crossfire and led the evacuation of more than 20,000 Filipinos who were caught in the conflict in Libya. You might also be surprised to hear the nationalities of the men and women we also ended up evacuating. Truly, the Philippines is different today: From a country that was always just the recipient of help, we have become a country capable of providing help.

(All things considered, Secretary Albert could have said “no” to working in government. He is a successful and respected businessman, and, certainly, he would be much more comfortable living a private life. He had also already served as ambassador to America. He could have become disillusioned after being removed from his position, because he opposed the past administration’s declaration of a State of Emergency back in 2006. But we asked him to return to government, and he did. Now, he is contributing even more as Secretary. He is ready to put himself in harm’s way, because he knows that no one else will save Filipinos but fellow Filipinos. For continuing to stand up for our rights, I salute you, Secretary Albert del Rosario.”)

After heaping praise on del Rosario, he recalled the exemplary public service of the late Jesse Robredo. Next, he gave another tribute: to the soon-to-retire Brig. Gen. Ramon Mateo Dizon, chief of the Presidential Security Group.

Was it a farewell tribute that President Aquino was giving del Rosario?

Reliable sources said del Rosario had offered to resign June last year over the rift with Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, who back-channeled with China when communications between the foreign secretary and the Chinese ambassador broke down in connection with the standoff in Bajo de Masinloc also known as Scarborough Shoal.

According to sources, the President did not act on the foreign secretary’s resignation but merely said he was not acting on any cabinet resignations before the May 2013 elections.

Last February, at the height of the Lahad Datu (Sabah) siege, Malacanang expressed displeasure over the statement of “grave concern” issued by del Rosario in connection with the reported human rights violations against Filipinos by Malaysian authorities.

Del Rosario, sources said, told a cabinet official, who relayed to him the President’s displeasure that if Aquino has lost confidence in him, he was willing to resign.

After the May 2013 election, there have been a number of political figures who have signified their interest in the position of foreign affairs secretary. One is former senator Edgardo Angara. Another is presidential political adviser Ronald Llamas. Another one said to be positioning for it is Ambassador to the US Jose Cuisia, Jr.

A Malacañang source said the foreign affairs position has been dangled to Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, who is reported to nurture 2016 presidential plans. But Roxas is not biting, the source said.

Del Rosario said he is “very humbled” by the President’s words of approval adding that Aquino has always inspired him.