MANILA – Former Philippine foreign secretary Albert del Rosario on Tuesday, March 14, pushed for the "permanent appointment" of seasoned ambassador Enrique Manalo as the Philippines' top diplomat.
In a statement, Del Rosario said of acting Foreign Secretary Manalo, "Having worked with the acting secretary for 5 years, it is my belief that it would be in the best interest of our country if he would be considered for permanent appointment."
Manalo was earlier viewed as a "transition man" because President Rodrigo Duterte reportedly eyed his running mate, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, as secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) by May.
Duterte, however, said on Monday, March 13, that Cayetano should probably stay in the Senate where he is more needed.
In his statement, Del Rosario pointed out that Manalo "is a professional career diplomat with 38 years of training and experience in foreign affairs."
Del Rosario said that Manalo "commands the respect not only of his peers at DFA but also of his counterparts in the global diplomatic community."
Del Rosario also said on Tuesday: "Moreover, while we fully appreciate that our president is our chief architect of our foreign policy, a direct communication protocol between a career secretary of the DFA and the Palace, at all times, would be key and extremely helpful. This would enable our acting secretary to provide the best possible advice on the merits and ramifications of all considered options related to foreign policy."
Del Rosario had earlier criticized Manalo's predecessor, Perfecto Yasay Jr, whom the Commission on Appointments (CA) eventually rejected over citizenship issues.
Del Rosario, who served as DFA chief from February 2011 to March 2016, is best remembered for the historic case filed by the Philippines against China over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
Del Rosario's immediate successor, former foreign secretary Jose Rene Almendras, said he also believes Manalo "is a very good choice" as secretary of foreign affairs (SFA).
"He has the training, experience, and appropriate perspective to be a very good SFA," Almendras said. – Rappler.com