By Roy Mabasa
“Senator John McCain was a giant of a man. We will not forget him,” former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario said in a statement on Tuesday.
Del Rosario, who also served as Philippine ambassador to Washington, D.C., was one of the few Filipino officials who had several interactions with the maverick senator from Arizona, including discussions about the strategic alliance between the two countries and the South China Sea dispute.
“With the passing of Senator John McCain, the United States and the responsible community of nations, including the Philippines, have sadly lost a staunch champion for democracy and a strong advocate of an international rules-based system,” Del Rosario told the Manila Bulletin in a statement.
“Those of us who have worked with him proffer our deepest sympathy to his family and to the American people whom he represented not only with courage and dignity but also with his patriotism of the highest order,” Del Rosario added.
The former top Filipino diplomat personally remembered McCain as a “unique and respected congressional leader who was most cooperative and supportive.”
“He was without equivocation in wanting to help the Philippines in every way that he could,” Del Rosario added.
Months before he left office in January 2016, Del Rosario went to the Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. to personally thank McCain’s for expressing his support to the Philippines’ arbitration case against China before the United Nations-backed Arbitral Tribunal in The Hague; and the decision of the Philippine Supreme Court that affirmed the constitutionality of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).