News Commentary

Ambassador Albert del Rosario, a man of unparalleled integrity and leadership

Krystyna Dy - Philstar.com
Albert del Rosario
Albert del Rosario, a businessman, served as Foreign Affairs secretary of the Philippines under the administration of President Noynoy Aquino.

Being a good public servant requires more than just doing the job—it means having a deep-rooted sense of responsibility toward one’s duties and a commitment to upholding the highest standards of ethical conduct. This entails being honest and transparent in dealings with citizens, treating each person fairly and equitably, taking ownership of decisions made on behalf of the public, and exhibiting truth in all aspects of one’s work.
In an age where values are often overlooked or compromised for personal gain, Ambassador Albert del Rosario stood strong in defending the ideals of statesmanship and patriotism.
He was a true patriot whose unwavering commitment and love for country have been shown time and again, and which extended far beyond any sense of obligation or duty. He embodied the values of integrity, good judgment, and independence required by any effective leader—qualities that will long be remembered and respected. ADR served his country with distinction, demonstrating truthfulness and good leadership in all his endeavors. He possessed an uncanny ability to see past politics, while always being true to his core values. His passion for our nation was unparalleled, endearing him to Filipinos no matter their political stance.
Throughout his career, Ambassador del Rosario exhibited extraordinary strength and courage in standing up for what he believed in. He led with insight and vision as he took on roles with increasing responsibility while maintaining the utmost dedication to service.
He earned the respect and admiration of his peers in the diplomatic community, even among those with whom he disagreed. This ability to bridge differences was key in resolving major international disputes involving the Philippines. In 2015, with strong support from President Benigno Aquino III, he filed an arbitration case against China before The Hague International Tribunal on behalf of the Philippines over disputed claims and Chinese aggression in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). Despite facing immense pressure from all sides, he remained steadfast in his convictions and was rewarded with a unanimous decision from the arbitral tribunal ruling in favor of the Philippines—work dedicatedly pursued until the very end of his tenure as foreign secretary in 2016.

In addition to his diplomatic contributions, Ambassador del Rosario was also renowned for his philanthropic work. He personally funded several projects that improved countless lives in the Philippines. Whether providing education opportunities to students or helping improve infrastructure within different communities, he never hesitated to use his own resources to serve and empower others.
He received numerous awards and recognition for his valuable contributions to the country and abroad. In September 2004, then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo awarded Ambassador del Rosario the Order of Sikatuna, Rank of Datu, for his extraordinary efforts in promoting foreign relations for the Philippines, and the Order of Lakandula, Rank of Grand Cross (Bayani), for serving as Co-Chair of the 2015 APEC in December 2015. He was awarded the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun by Emperor Naruhito of Japan in November 2022 for his role in transforming the Japan-Philippines bilateral relationship into a "strategic partnership." He  substantially helped the safety of ships crossing the waters around the Philippines by developing bilateral maritime security cooperation.
He displayed the courage to take risks, even in uncertain times, in order to make progress on issues that mattered most. He set an example for all Filipinos, showing them that serving with integrity and passion was possible. He possessed an engaging charisma that enabled him to interact effectively with people from all walks of life. Whether giving policy advice or simply having a conversation over dinner, he showed a genuine interest in those around him and was always eager to learn more about their lives and experiences—me, included, in the few memorable and priceless times I was given the opportunity to converse with a person I deeply admired. His exemplary dedication serves as an inspiration to me and those who continuously strive for excellence in their roles.
In addition to the apparent advantages of working and interacting with a great political leader, such as witnessing good governance in action, I gained significant insight into my own personal development. This taught me that no matter how challenging it is, one must always stay true to one's convictions and principles. It also taught me that effective leadership entails taking chances, standing up for what is right, and being willing to make unpopular decisions when necessary.
Our nation is stronger because of Ambassador del Rosario’s resilience and perseverance in the face of uncertainty, and we are better equipped to face any challenge that may arise. We are grateful for his immeasurable contributions and will remember him for all he did for our country.
Thank you, ADR, for a life well lived in the service of our nation.

Krystyna Louise C. Dy is the director of Programs and External Affairs of think tank Stratbase ADR Institute (ADRi) and the former Sangguniang Kabataan (Youth Council) president and board member of the provincial government of Isabela. She is also a co-convenor of Democracy Watch Philippines, a citizen-led democratic initiative, and a project of ADRi.

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