‘Del Rosario diplomacy’ hailed amid PH victory

Paterno Esmaquel II
‘Del Rosario diplomacy’ hailed amid PH victory

LeAnne Jazul

Consul General Henry Bensurto Jr calls for a change 'from a nice and quiet diplomacy, to something that is robust but truthful, firm but polite'

MANILA, Philippines – “If you’re being raped, you might as well enjoy it.”

Henry Bensurto Jr, Philippine consul general in San Francisco, said Filipino diplomats once kept this mindset in case another country “raped” the Philippines.

It was different with Albert del Rosario, the Philippine foreign secretary who led efforts to bring China to court. 

Del Rosario thought this way: “If you are being done wrong, speak out.” Bensurto asked, “And what is wrong with that?”

Bensurto in a forum on Friday, July 15, labeled this the “Del Rosario diplomacy,” as opposed to “traditional diplomacy.”

Del Rosario’s approach bore fruit on Tuesday, July 12, when the Philippines won a historic case against China over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). The ruling, according to Del Rosario, showed that “right is might and that international law is the great equalizer for all states.”

Del Rosario’s example showed the need for a “paradigm shift” in Philippine diplomacy, the consul general said.

No to ‘defeatist’ attitude

Bensurto explained, “We have to restructure our previous mindset from a nice and quiet diplomacy to something that is robust but truthful, firm but polite.”

The consul general said the “Del Rosario diplomacy” also shows the following:

  • Taking risks and not taking a “defeatist attitude” just because the other country is powerful
  • Thinking out of the box, such as seeking “third party adjudication” once the bilateral or multilateral approaches fail
  • Keeping “a peace mentality” instead of the traditional “appeasement,” to avoid Band-aid solutions that “only aggravate” problems
  • Avoiding “unfair joint development” as proposed by China

Referring to Del Rosario, Bensurto added: “He has been accused of so many things, of ranting. The truth of the matter is, that’s not true. In all of the meetings that the secretary attended, he was upfront but always polite. He never called a country by any name.”

“He was firm but he was also polite. He was truthful, he was not lying. So this was all that he did.” – Rappler.com

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Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.