MANILA (Mabuhay) – Outgoing President Benigno Aquino III said on Thursday that under his administration, in terms of foreign policy, the Philippines was able to reclaim its distinguished stature in the community of nations.
Speaking during the 118th foundation anniversary of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Aquino praised career diplomats and staff of the department for improving the image of the country overseas as well as serving Filipinos working abroad.
“Higit sa lahat, nabawi natin ang ating pambansang dangal. Kung dati, tayo ang binabalewalang kasapi ng pandaigdigang komunidad, ngayon isa na tayo sa tinitingalang bansa. Kung dati puro negatibong balita ang bumabandera tungkol sa Pilipinas, ngayon isa na tayo sa laging napupuri,” Aquino said.
(Most of all, we have reclaimed our national honor. If previously we are brushed aside as a member of the international community, now we are a country others look up to. If before only negative news about the Philippines abound, now we are among those that receive praises.)
He spoke lengthily about the achievements of the department under former Secretary Albert del Rosario such as overseeing the evacuation of thousands of overseas Filipino workers in the Middle East. Aquino said that as a Cabinet official, Del Rosario was hands-on, as exhibited by his visit to strife-torn Libya to ensure the safety of Filipinos there.
“Si Albert [del Rosario], hindi tagapasa ng problema, siya’y taga-tugon sa problema at minsan lampas sa inaasahan sa kanya. Hindi kailangang sabihan dahil agad siyang kumikilos at nakatutok sa kapakanan ng ating kababayan,” the President said.
“Sa kabila ng pagkakaroon ng mga sakripisyo at karamdaman, ibinuhos pa rin ni Albert ang kanyang buong lakas at kakayahan para sa ating mga Boss. Kaya kay Albert, maraming-maraming salamat,” he added.
(Albert del Rosario is not one who passes the burden, he responds to the problem and sometimes even exceeds expectations. He doesn’t need to be told to act on a problem because he does so on his own and is focused on the welfare of our fellow Filipinos.
Despite sacrifices and illness, he devoted his energy and skills to our Bosses. So, to Albert, thank you very much.)
Del Rosario, who served as DFA chief since February 24, 2011, tendered his resignation last February citing health reasons.
It was under Del Rosario’s leadership that the Philippines staked its claim on disputed islands in the West Philippine Sea by filing a historic case against China. The case is pending before an arbitral tribunal at the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands.
The decision of the arbitration tribunal is expected to be issued “within weeks,” according to reports.
With seven days remaining in his term, Aquino rallied the DFA to continue implementing the reforms that have started in his administration.
“Pagtibayin pa sana natin ang pagkakaisa at nawa’y itaguyod natin ang ating ambisyon: ang iwan ang bansa sa di hamak na mas magandang kalagayan kesa sa ating pinagmulan,” he said.
(It is hoped that we intensify our unity so that we may achieve our ambition: to leave with the country in a far better state than we had started with.) (MNS)