American officials and Filipino diplomats recently honored outgoing Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario for his years of dedication in championing the strong ties between the US and Philippines.
US and Filipino diplomats gathered in Washington, D.C. to honor del Rosario as he is set to step down his office on March 7.
The farewell reception coincided with the inauguration of the newly-renovated Chancery Annex of the Philippines along Massachusetts Avenue, a few blocks away from the White House.
Constructed in 1917, the brick building was the former four-story Embassy building of the Philippines. It served as the Office of the Resident Commissioner of the Philippines to the United States in 1943, then as Chancery of the Embassy of the Philippines following the country’s independence and establishment of diplomatic relations with the US in 1946. It was abandoned in 1995 when the diplomatic mission moved to a new office across the street.
“While the inauguration of this historic building is already a compelling reason to celebrate, our gathering tonight is made even more special as we pay tribute to a man for whom we hold the highest respect and admiration—the man that the Filipino people are privileged and proud to have as Secretary of Foreign Affairs,” Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Cuisia Jr. said.
Del Rosario was the Philippine Ambassador to the US from 2001 to 2006 under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. He quit his post due to policy differences with the Arroyo government.
In 2011, President Benigno Aquino 3rd swore in del Rosario as secretary of Foreign Affairs.
Former US Ambassador to the Philippines and newly-appointed State Department Counselor Kristie Kenney said it was through del Rosario that she “first came to know and love the warmth, the charm, the grace and the dignity of the Filipino people.”
In a letter addressed to del Rosario and read by Kenney during the event, US Secretary of State John Kerry expressed pride in calling him a “trusted colleague and a personal friend.”
“There’s simply no doubt that today’s close US-Philippines relationship is thanks in large part to your sound judgment and strong commitment to diplomacy. Your steady leadership not only ensured the vitality of our countries’ friendship, it has also helped steer the course of events in the Philippines and around the world in the right direction,” Kerry wrote.
“As we live in an increasingly uncertain and complex world, the international community will need more statesmen like you,” he added.
Senator Mazie Hirono also expressed appreciation for del Rosario’s leadership.
Del Rosario said the two countries should not stop working to enhance their ties.
“Even if it is our belief that Philippines-US relations have never been better, we must still persist in working together to further strengthen our alliance so that we can proactively, effectively, and strategically address our shared formidable challenges in the Asia Pacific region,” he added.