MANILA, Philippines – The Palace on Monday, February 8, confirmed that Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario is stepping down from office in less than a month.
In a brief statement, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr cited information from Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr.
"According to Executive Secretary Ochoa, President Aquino has accepted the resignation of Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario effective March 7, 2016," Coloma said.
Sources said Del Rosario is stepping down due to health reasons.
Under Del Rosario, the Philippines filed a historic case against China to settle a decades-long dispute between Manila and Beijing over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
The case is pending before an arbitral tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands. The Philippines expects the tribunal to issue a definitive ruling by this year.
Del Rosario is also known for overseeing the evacuation of thousands of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from strife-torn countries in the Middle East. A hands-on diplomat, he even visited countries such as Libya to ensure the safety of Filipinos there.
A well-known businessman before becoming the Philippines' top diplomat, he has served as DFA chief since February 24, 2011.
Before heading the DFA, he worked as Philippine ambassador to the US from 2001 to 2006.
Born on November 14, 1939, Del Rosario holds an economics degree from New York University. The 76-year-old diplomat and his wife, Gretchen, have 5 children and 6 grandchildren, his profile on the DFA website said. – Rappler.com
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 email@example.com.