DFA chief: I remain true to my commitment
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario on Tuesday, September 25, quelled fears that he is demoralized and about to quit due to a senator's back-channeling with Beijing.
"As Secretary of Foreign Affairs, I have sworn to faithfully serve the country. I remain true to my commitment," Del Rosario said, according to Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesperson Raul Hernandez through his Twitter account, @dfaspokesperson.
On the same day, his supporters came out to hail his “principled leadership” amid Senator Antonio Trillanes IV's supposed accusation of treason.
On Monday, September 24, ABS-CBN reported Del Rosario is considering to quit his post due to Senator Antonio Trillanes IV's back-channeling without his knowledge. ABS-CBN quoted a “highly-placed Palace source.”
The Palace has denied the report, but the Philippine embassy in the United States immediately issued a statement to support him. Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Cuisia Jr referred to various statements “regarding the diplomacy being undertaken in this very critical time in our international relations.”
“I firmly support the principled leadership exhibited by our Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert F Del Rosario, and his stewardship as he orchestrated the Philippine government’s diplomatic efforts through the most challenging of circumstances,” Cuisia said in the statement sent through the embassy's First Secretary and Consul Elmer Cato.
Cuisia added Del Rosario leads the DFA “in making the honorable and oftentimes arduous stand to defend our national security and territorial sovereignty, based on the policy guidance provided by His Excellency President Benigno S Aquino III.”
Del Rosario upholds the national interest and “is a true patriot,” according to Cuisia, in contrast to Trillanes' reported statement that he “is committing treason.”
Like Cuisia, the embassy's officers and personnel “associated themselves” with Cuisia's statement. “We stand behind the secretary's principled defense of the security of our country and his untiring efforts to promote a better life of Filipinos,” they said.
Making China win?
In a separate statement, the chair of a Filipino-Americans' group said she is “very alarmed” about Del Rosario's rumored plan to quit.
“President Aquino would be ill-advised if he would allow this rumor to continue. It means China has won this battle over Scarborough Shoal!” said US Pinoys for Good Governance chair Loida Nicolas Lewis.
“In addition, it would be a blow to President Aquino's leadership because of the perception that he is backing the neophyte senator over the hardworking, experienced, versatile, and (internationally) well-respected Secretary del Rosario,” Lewis said.
She said her group is requesting Aquino “to express his full support to and unconditional confidence” in Del Rosario.
The Philippine-American Chamber of Commerce of New York, for its part, also expressed “strong support” for Del Rosario.
“As Foreign Secretary, he has been a passionate advocate of the Philippines and a defender of the interests of President Aquino and the Filipino people,” the Philippine-American Chamber of Commerce said, referring to his overseas missions to protect or repatriate overseas Filipino workers.
“Above all, Foreign Secretary del Rosario has always acted as a statesman and a gentleman. He is the epitome of a diplomat. He has represented the country with honor,” said the group, which was established in 1920 and is one of the US' oldest bilateral business organizations.
Malacañang, however, denied on Monday, September 24, that Del Rosario wanted to quit due to demoralization.
“As far as I know, that's not true. In fact, Secretary del Rosario was with the President yesterday in Brunei and he is now on his way to Washington in his capacity as secretary of foreign affairs. How can that be a sign of a demoralization if he continues to perform his functions and responsibilities as secretary of foreign affairs?" said Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda.
Del Rosario is in New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly, and on Sunday, September 23, accompanied Aquino for a royal wedding in Brunei.
Intrigues involving Del Rosario and Trillanes had existed, according to Palace sources, but the issue dissipated in July.
But on September 19, Del Rosario said he “won't dignify those who are working against us,” obviously referring to Trillanes. “There must be one policy and one national interest in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea),” Del Rosario said.
Recent disputes over the South China Sea, particularly in Scarborough Shoal, pulled Philippine-China diplomacy to its lowest point in years.
On Saturday, September 22, Chinese leader-in-waiting Xi Jinping said he hopes the Philippines and China can mend their relations. Vice President Xi told Philippine Secretary Mar Roxas that tensions between their countries had "eased." – Rappler.com