Cuisia, Lewis lead defense of Del Rosario in US
WASHINGTON D.C. - The Philippine ambassador to Washington DC and a Filipino-American civic leader rallied around Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, urging him to stay amid rumors he is contemplating resignation.
Philippine Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr., the country’s top envoy in Washington DC, said he firmly supports the principled leadership exhibited by Del Rosario.
"We at the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. continue to be inspired by the Secretary’s courage, integrity and fortitude,” Cuisia said in a statement.
“We commit to rededicate our full efforts to support the Secretary, and continue to make our contribution to his efforts to protect and uphold our sovereignty, and ensure the safety and well-being of our people."
Filipino-American business and civic leader Loida Nicolas Lewis, chairperson of the US Pinoys for Good Governance, said she was "very alarmed" that Del Rosario “would even think about quitting the DFA” after an alleged spat with Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV over back-channel negotiations with China.
"On behalf of US Pinoys for Good Governance, we earnestly request the President to express his full support to and unconditional confidence in Secretary Del Rosario," she said in a statement.
Del Rosario is already in New York for scheduled activities of the United Nations General Assembly this week.
The rare and extraordinary gesture of Fil-Am community leaders and the country’s top diplomats highlighted the growing controversy over President Aquino’s double-pronged approach in dealing with China over the territorial disputes in the West Philippine (South China) Sea.
What started out as a verbal spat between Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Senator Antonio Trillanes IV over the creation of a new province in the Bicol region, has erupted into a full-blown word war that has dragged Malacanang into the controversy.
Enrile questioned the junior senator’s frequent visits to China at a time when the Philippines was trying to assert sovereignty over Scarborough Shoal, just a hundred miles west of the Zambales.
Trillanes revealed that he was conducting backdoor talks with Chinese officials with the blessings of President Aquino, ostensibly to diffuse tension between the two countries in the face of Del Rosario’s alleged “war-freak” approach.
Enrile bared supposed notes taken by former Philippine Ambassador to Beijing Sonia Brady that allegedly showed Trillanes “bad-mouthing” Del Rosario in front of Chinese officials. Earlier this week, President Aquino reaffirmed Trillanes’ role as his “back-room negotiator”.
Lewis, who helped campaign for President Aquino, warned he “would be ill-advised if he allows this rumor (Del Rosario’s resignation) to continue. It means China has won this battle over Scarborough Shoal.”
“It would be a blow to President Aquino’s leadership because of the perception that he is backing the neophyte senator over the hardworking, experienced, versatile and well-respected Secretary del Rosario,” she added.
“We stand behind the Secretary’s principled defense of the security of our country and his uniting efforts to promote a better life for Filipinos,” officers at the Philippine Embassy declared in a manifesto.