Ex-DFA chief on Duterte US policy: 'National tragedy'

MANILA, Philippines – Former Philippine foreign secretary Albert del Rosario on Friday, October 21, slammed Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's announcement to cut economic and military ties with the US. 

"What is unfolding before us must be considered a national tragedy which does not need to happen. It is our earnest hope that this most unfortunate declaration will be corrected," Del Rosario said in a rare written statement emailed to reporters on Friday.

Del Rosario, a former Philippine ambassador to the US, issued this statement after Duterte announced his "separation" from the US in economic and military terms. 

While planning to downgrade ties with the US, Duterte is seeking stronger ties with China.

Warning vs 'newfound friend'

During Del Rosario's time as DFA chief, the Philippines sued China before an arbitral tribunal over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) dispute.

Del Rosario said: "The declared shift in foreign policy casting aside a long time reliable ally to hastily embrace an aggressive neighbor that vehemently rejects international law is both unwise and incomprehensible."

"We must be with responsible nations with whom we share our core values of democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law. To stand otherwise, is not what Filipinos are; it is not what we do; it is not what is right," he added.

Del Rosario earlier warned the Philippines about its "newfound friend" as Duterte embarked on a 4-day state visit to China.

The Philippines' former top diplomat asked: "Where is the wisdom if we are appearing to place all our bets on the integrity and credibility of our northern neighbor – especially one, in particular, that vehemently rejects adhering to the rule of law?" – Rappler.com

Paterno R. 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.

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