MANILA (1st UPDATE) - Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario is set to to attend the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in New York, but this could be one of his last missions if he opts to resign from his post.
A highly-placed Palace source told ABS-CBNnews.com that recent incidents concerning the back-channel efforts of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV with China over the Scarborough Shoal dispute have demoralized del Rosario, prompting him to think about quitting his post.
Sources said the approval by Malacañang of Trillanes’ initiatives sans his knowledge has upset del Rosario terribly.
ABS-CBNnews.com sought Del Rosario for comment, but he has yet to respond as of posting. He left for New York this morning.
Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez said del Rosario has not informed them of such plans.
Asked to describe the prevailing atmosphere in the DFA, Hernandez told ABS-CBNnews.com that “we are okay, upbeat. We support the Secretary. He is a good leader. He has been faithfully implementing the foreign policy of [President Benigno Aquino III].”
When asked to comment on this report, Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said: "As far as I know, that's not true. In fact, Secretary del Rosario was with the President yesterday in Brunei and he is now on his way to Washington in his capacity as Secretary of Foreign Affairs. How can that be a sign of a demoralization if he continues to perform his functions and responsibilities as Secretary of Foreign Affairs?"
'More harm than good'
Del Rosario has criticized the back-channeling initiative. Last week, the Philippine Daily Inquirer quoted him as saying, “I think that while back channeling has its purpose, in our case it’s doing more harm than good. It is important that we speak with one voice on this matter.”
Last Friday, Aquino backed Trillanes’ story, saying that his efforts have helped eased tensions between China and the Philippines over the Panatag Shoal. He insisted, however, that it was not an idea forwarded by Malacañang.
Immediately after Trillanes made the media rounds to explain his side of the story, Aquino ordered him and del Rosario to desist from disclosing more information.
Prodded further, however, Trillanes later admitted he did not inform del Rosario of such plans. Malacañang, meanwhile, has not confirmed until now if the government shouldered the senator’s numerous trips to China.
The former mutineer also found himself at the receiving end of criticisms after Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile alleged in open session at the Senate last week that he had sold the country’s sovereignty to China.
Enrile thereafter disclosed notes supposedly written by former Ambassador to China Sonia Brady on the alleged interference of Trillanes in the country’s maritime dispute with China.
Based on Enrile's reading of the so-called Brady notes, Trillanes supposedly named del Rosario as a “traitor.”
The neophyte senator also supposedly told Chinese officials that del Rosario was further adding to the tensions by helping his friend, businessman Manny Pangilinan, pursue his oil exploration interests in the South China Sea. Pangilinan has denied the claim. -- with a report from Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News