Senate asked to honor Del Rosario, work in securing arbitral tribunal win

Senate asked to honor Del Rosario, work in securing arbitral tribunal win
In this 2015 handout photo, former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and the Philippine contingent attend a hearing of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands.
Permanent Court of Arbitration release

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Risa Hontiveros filed Wednesday a resolution asking the Senate to honor the memory of former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and his work in winning the Philippines' case against China before a Hague-based arbitral tribunal.

"Del Rosario will be remembered most for being at the helm of the Philippine victory in The Hague, where the 2016 Arbitral Award by the Permanent Court of Arbitration reaffirmed our legitimate rights in the West Philippine Sea and asserted baseline principles of the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea," Hontiveros said in Senate Resolution No. 572.

Congress is on break until May 8, so Hontiveros' resolution cannot be adopted until session resumes. Her resolution may also be merged with other resolutions honoring the life and work of Del Rosario.

Hontiveros said the ruling showed "that a country like the Philippines can assert and protect its rights over its territory and resources, even in the face of conflicting claims from a global giant like China."

Quoting retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, Hontiveros said Del Rosario gave humanity "the largest award of the global commons in the history of the UNCLOS."

The senator also remembered Del Rosario for being a "tenacious and wise diplomat" and a "public servant of untarnished integrity and moral certitude," as she brought up an incident where the late foreign affairs secretary refused an order from an incumbent head of state because it compromised his principles.

Hontiveros said Del Rosario was known for defending the national interest, whether it be the country’s security interest or the interest of distressed overseas Filipino workers.

Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople also called Del Rosario a role model in looking after the rights and welfare of OFWs.

"One of the best examples of servant-leadership in times of our workers’ greatest need would be that of Secretary del Rosario, and for that he will always be remembered fondly and with gratitude by the overseas employment sector," Ople said in a separate statement.

Ople added that Del Rosario always lent an open ear to non-profit organizations and OFW groups and remained accessible to them even after his stint as foreign affairs secretary.

She also recalled how Del Rosario chose to monitor the evacuation of OFWs from Libya to Tunisia on the ground "at tremendous risk to his own life, thus making every distressed worker at that time feel safe and cared for."

According to the Department of Migrant Workers, the DFA under Del Rosario’s watch oversaw the repatriation of over 24,000 Filipinos and extended assistance to over 80,000 OFWs. — Xave Gregorio with a report from Kaycee Valmonte

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