While hysterians such as ellentordesillas are casting their dark and contentious shadow across the Philippines by declaring President Aquino "treasonous" for suggesting the Philippines may ask the U.S. for fly-over assistance to monitor the contested areas of the West Philippine Sea, let me present the Philippines in a different light.
As sophisticated, intelligent and capable.
Now you know I rag on the Philippine government regularly, especially about the ineptitude of Customs, the Courts and Education. In doing so, I unfairly neglect the many capable people dedicated to doing good work for this nation, our nation.
Yesterday, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that Japan was continuing its program of assistance to the Philippines for monitoring the seas in the Philippine region. The paper interviewed Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. del Rosario and reported the following:
- Del Rosario earlier told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that aside from the United States, three other countries—Japan, South Korea and Australia—were helping the Philippines establish a minimum credible defense posture to complement its diplomatic capacity in dealing with its territorial disputes with China in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). He disclosed that Tokyo was likely to provide the Philippine Coast Guard with 12 patrol boats.“They’re considering 10 40-meter boats on official development aid and two larger ones as grants,” Del Rosario said.
The Bayan Party quickly put the driving force behind the five-party alliance as the United States. According to Inquirer.net:
- “The US wants a seamless interface with all its treaty partners in the region. This is [why] Japan is enhancing defense ties with the Philippines,” Renato Reyes Jr., Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) Secretary General, said in a statement. “With Japan now wanting to do port calls and military exercises in the Philippines, and with the Australia seeking a Status of Forces Agreement to be able to conduct military exercises, our country becomes one giant military hub for the US and its treaty partners."
Now this is a legitimate criticism (1) if true, which would require that Bayan have first hand knowledge of U.S. strategic discussions and plans, and (2) if it made sense for the Philippines to say "no" to the idea that it build its defenses as a part of an alliance. Bayan, of course, is not in on U.S. strategy discussions and offered no alternative course of action. Bayan offered no way to dissuade China from sending its military boats into Philippine waters. No acknowledgement that, in saying "no" to the U.S., it would be acceding to the best desires of China.
And never mind that Japan has been providing assistance to the Philippines to build its Coast Guard since 1990.
Indeed, the Philippines IS squarely the hub of conflict in the West Philippine Sea because China has made it so by blockading Philippine ships that were trying to detain Chinese fishermen who had illegal cargo hauled from Philippine waters. What would Bayan propose doing? Accede to China? But not the U.S.
Well, I think it is better to be strong than weak, so I'm not clear on what Bayan's alternative courses of action might be. Weakness in isolation, perhaps. Maybe Mr. Reyes will clarify his sources and present some constructive alternatives in coming days.
But that is not the main point of this blog.
I have for some time been impressed with the foreign policy agenda of President Aquino. He has visited neighboring countries in Asia to open up lines of communication and negotiate mutually beneficial trade, investment, grant and OFW programs, he has visited with President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, opening up easy and direct lines of communication and establishing, for the first time in a long time, a balanced and non-acrimonious relationship with an important ally, and he has participated in important conferences in the Asian region. Beyond that, he has articulated a firm position with regard to Philippine territorial borders while advocating for a continued constructive relationship with China on other matters.
The person primarily responsible for making all these initiatives happen, of course, is Secretary Del Rosario.
If the Philippines is to find real pride, it will forget about the boxers, singers and movie stars, and direct its commendations to people who are representing the Philippines in a first class way.
I thought you might enjoy knowing who it is that is caretaking the relationships the Philippines has with the U.S. and elsewhere.
You will note that Secretary Del Rosario, the eternal diplomat, does not stock his bio with important but delicate matters like the fact that he resigned his Ambassadorship to the U.S. under Gloria Arroyo because he did not believe he could fairly (read honorably) represent Philippine decisions to Washington. He was particularly uncomfortable with Arroyo's declaration of emergency rule in 2006, which he believed to be unjustified.
This is a first class diplomat and Foreign Affairs Secretary. Intelligent, principled, experienced, capable. Even Bayan should be proud.
ALBERT F. DEL ROSARIO
SECRETARY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
Republic of the Philippines
The Honorable Albert F. del Rosario was born in Manila on November 14, 1939 and has worked for both the private sector and government. He attended Xavier High School in New York City and subsequently graduated from New York University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Economics.
Secretary Del Rosario's business career spanned a vast field which included insurance, banking, real estate, shipping, telecommunications, consumer products, retail, pharmaceutical, and food industries, among others. He was member of the Board and director of various firms prior to entering public service as Philippine Ambassador to the United States in Washington D.C.
The Secretary's experience in the private sector included positions as chair of Philippine Stratbase Consultancy, Inc. and Makati Foundation for Education; president of Gotuaco, Del Rosario Insurance Brokers, Inc. and Philippine Telecommunications Investment Corporation (PTIC); director in various companies and non-profit organizations, including the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT), BusinessWorld Publishing Corporation, First Pacific Company (Hong Kong), PT Indofood Sukses Makmur Tbk (Indonesia), Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (MPIC), Philex Mining Corporation, Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation (MPTC), Metro Pacific Tollways Development Corporation (MPTDC), Manila North Tollways Corporation (MNTC), ABC Development Corporation (ABC 5), Asia Insurance (Philippines) Corporation, Philippine Cancer Society, Cultural Center of the Philippines Foundation, Incorporated (CCPFI); trustee of PinoyME Foundation, Inc.; member of the Asia Society's International Council and of the Board of Governors of International Graduate University (Washington, DC). In addition, the Secretary headed the development of Pacific Plaza Towers, Metro Pacific Corporation's signature project at Fort Bonifacio, Global City.
As Philippine Ambassador to the United States, he was instrumental in securing US$1.2 Billion U.S. funding assistance for the Philippines, bilateral cooperation in counterterrorism and peace and development in Mindanao, investments in the country's Business Process Outsourcing industry, and greater access for Philippine exports. His enduring legacy which continues to benefit the Philippines includes the formation of the Philippines-US Congressional Friendship composed of over 80 legislators from the US House of Representatives, retaining the Philippines in the list of approved investment locations in the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS), development of the Reform Program for the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and pioneering the Ambassadors/Consuls General Tour of the Philippines, and Bayan Ko-Bahay Ko Program.
In September of 2004, he was conferred the Order of Sikatuna, Rank of Datu by H.E. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for his outstanding efforts in promoting foreign relations. In early 2001, he received the EDSA II Heroes Award from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in recognition of his efforts in promoting Philippine democracy. He also received the Philippine Army Award from President Corazon Aquino for his initiatives as Chairman of the Makati Foundation for Education in 1991. He was elevated to the Xavier Hall of Fame in New York City in 2006.
Secretary del Rosario is married to Gretchen de Venecia. They have five children and six grandchildren.