Department of Foreign Affairs

Albert del Rosario, former Philippine foreign secretary, dies at 83

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

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Albert del Rosario, former Philippine foreign secretary, dies at 83

DIPLOMAT. Former foreign affairs secretary Albert del Rosario during a forum at the Manila Polo Club in Makati City on March 22, 2019.

Angie de Silva/Rappler

Albert del Rosario, 83, is best remembered as the Philippine foreign secretary who helped bring China to court over the West Philippine Sea dispute

MANILA, Philippines – Former foreign secretary Albert del Rosario, best remembered for helping bring China to court, died at the age of 83, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) announced on Tuesday, April 18.

“I extend my deepest condolences to the loved ones of Secretary Albert F. Del Rosario. He was a consummate diplomat and an inspiring leader who led the DFA with integrity and unwavering commitment to public service. You will be missed, Mr. Secretary,” said Foreign Secretary Enrique Manalo, one of Del Rosario’s closest associates when he was at the DFA.

Del Rosario led the DFA from 2011 to 2016 under President Benigno Aquino III.

It was under Del Rosario that the Philippines, in a historic first, sued China for violating its rights in the West Philippine Sea. The Philippines eventually won this case, with Del Rosario becoming one of the most ardent champions of the arbitral ruling despite the Duterte administration’s pivot to China.

He continued speaking out about the West Philippine Sea under the Marcos administration, as he emailed statements to the media on current issues – the most recent of which was sent on Holy Tuesday, April 4, about the importance of the rule of law in addressing the sea dispute.

“The President has been taking proper steps in addressing the situation in the West Philippine Sea and we fully encourage him to continue to do so,” wrote Del Rosario on April 4.

In his final media statement, Del Rosario – who supported Leni Robredo for president – encouraged President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to continue implementing the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement with the United States, pursue joint patrols in the West Philippine Sea, acquire defense assets, and urge other world leaders to acknowledge the 2016 arbitral award.

“As we have said before, follow the Rule of Law, Mr. President. You can be sure that Filipinos will be with you,” Del Rosario told Marcos.

Born on November 14, 1939, Del Rosario was among the rare breed of political appointees at the DFA who gained the confidence of different presidents from opposing camps.

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Albert del Rosario, former Philippine foreign secretary, dies at 83

Albert del Rosario, former Philippine foreign secretary, dies at 83

Before Aquino made him foreign secretary, then-president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo – whom the Aquino administration eventually prosecuted – named him Philippine ambassador to Washington. Del Rosario held this post from 2001 to 2006, when he resigned reportedly due to disagreements with Arroyo’s government.

While he is best known for his work in government, Del Rosario was a longtime businessman who served in various capacities at the MVP Group of Companies, including as director at PLDT.

An economics graduate of New York University, Del Rosario was a recipient of the Philippines’ highest award for diplomats – the Order of Sikatuna, with the rank of Datu – in 2004. More than a decade later, he received the Order of Lakandula with a Rank of Grand Cross (Bayani), the highest honor given to civilians, under Aquino. –

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Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email