ADR’s patriotism to inspire Filipino nation | Inquirer Opinion

ADR’s patriotism to inspire Filipino nation

/ 05:02 AM April 28, 2023

When former ambassador to the United States and former foreign affairs secretary Albert del Rosario passed away last week, Filipinos mourned the loss of a patriot but celebrated his legacy of achievements that will outlast lifetimes.

We do the same for our beloved chair at the Stratbase ADR (Albert del Rosario) Institute. We look back to the time we established this think tank, out of a shared love for country and passion to assert Philippine sovereignty and territorial integrity, outside the realm—and whims—of politics. That was a great time to be a Filipino.

Then again, it is always a great time to be a Filipino. Even when times are difficult. Especially when times are difficult. This is one lesson we learned from our mentor and friend, ADR.

At the outset, ADR had been at the front and center of the Philippines’ defense of its territory in the West Philippine Sea (WPS). He led the filing of the petition before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague. He was there when we learned of our victory in that legal case: The rule of law was on our side.


But ADR also never left our side in the gloomier years that followed, when our very own government leaders willfully set aside that rightful legal victory. ADR continued to talk about how we must not allow other countries to trample on our nation’s rights. At times, it seemed like his voice was the only one that remained constant and steadfast, when everyone else had moved on to other issues.

ADR was the face of calm and rationality even in the face of adversity—for instance, when he was held at the Hong Kong International Airport after criticizing China and saying it was “not to be trusted” for the sinking of a Filipino vessel. He remained calm even after our own Palace officials questioned his trip and accused him of using the incident to further his advocacy.

More than that, he always had a cache of constructive recommendations to whoever the decision-makers in government were. For example, he advocated that the Philippines should continue implementing the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement with the United States, to strengthen our security alliance, advance a rules-based international order, and enhance our capabilities to deter aggression. He pushed for joint patrols in the WPS with likeminded allies like the US, Japan, Australia, and members of the European Union. He proposed building our defense posture by acquiring defense assets.

ADR urged the President to include, as a consistent agenda in his foreign trips, an invitation to other leaders to support the 2016 Arbitral Award. This, he believed, would show the world that no nation, however powerful, can unilaterally take over a territory or body of water, contrary to international law. He also wanted to make Chinese officials criminally accountable for inflicting the most massive, and devastating destruction of the marine wealth in the South China Sea.


ADR reverently appealed with the previous president to assert our victory in the WPS, but even when he was met with coldness and sometimes ridicule, he kept at it. Seeing how the Philippines’ own leader refused to uphold the arbitral ruling, ADR sought to ask the United Nations to ask China to abide by and respect the decision. He believed that the Philippines could pursue both bilateral engagements and multilateral cooperation to gain support from the international community.

As a staunch believer in the power of the rule of law, ADR inspired many Filipinos—us here in Stratbase included—to never waiver in the face of bullies and amid challenges. Our struggles are far from over, but the steadfastness and commitment shown by our beloved ADR will inspire us to see this issue through until its rightful end.


We will be eternally grateful to our friend and mentor ADR for all that he did, for his example, for his life, and heroic service.


Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

Dindo Manhit is founder and CEO of the Stratbase Group.

TAGS: Albert del Rosario, Philippines, Stratbase ADR Institute, West Philippine Sea (South China Sea)

© Copyright 1997-2024 | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.