Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario has died on Tuesday, April 18.
According to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), del Rosario passed away on his way to San Francisco, USA.
In a separate statement, current DFA chief Enrique Manalo also extended his condolences to del Rosario's bereaved family.
“He was a consummate diplomat and an inspiring leader who led the DFA with integrity and unwavering commitment to public service. You will be missed, Mr. Secretary,” he said.
Politicians and key personalities also mourned his passing on social media.
"It was through Sec. Del Rosario’s tutelage that the Philippines won the historic 2016 Arbitral Award, reaffirming our legitimate rights in the West Philippine Sea. This ruling has earned its place in the annals of international law, showing the world that we, a small country, can stand up to a global giant like China, in the name of our hard-won sovereignty," she said.
"I have rarely met such a dignified and gentlemanly person who was also perfectly capable of fighting indefatigably for what he believed in. He preached and practiced what he called hard diplomacy. We must carry on his fight."
Philippine Veterans Bank president Joey Bermudez, on the other hand, recalled the time he and his wife met the chief in 2007.
"He pulled her aside and told her 'I just want you to know what an amazing husband you have.' Startled, my wife just smiled. Then Albert quickly added 'I'm serious.' I would have brushed it off as flattery if it came from somebody else. But because it came from him, I took it to heart. Only those who didn't know him enough could have disbelieved anything he said. He defined authenticity."
"Those who knew the battles he fought have to concede that Albert was not one to bow to abusive presidents or political bullies. 'Not him, pick somebody else' was the advise I would have given anyone thinking of taking him on," he added.
Real estate agent Edwin Josue said also thanked del Rosario for his service and friendship. "Thank you for the service to the Philippines! Thank you for the warm friendship all throughout these years!"
Former Solicitor General of the Philippines Florin Hiblay also posted a tribute for del Rosario. He said: "The West Philippine Sea arbitration was very intense, with so much at stake, and so many strong opinions all over. Through it all, Sec. Albert Del Rosario was a level-headed, reasonable, inspiring, and calming influence. Sec. Albert served beyond the call of duty and brought out the best in all of us. The nation owes you. Thank you, Sec Albert."
In a statement, president Ferdinand Marcos Jr. sent his condolences to del Rosario's family.
"I join the entire nation in mourning the passing of Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, an honorable diplomat and an esteemed public servant," he said.
"I extend my deepest sympathies to the family and loved ones of Secretary del Rosario, who was known for his patriotism and integrity. We thank his deep commitment to our national interest and his unwavering devotion to our shared values."
Del Rosario served as foreign affairs secretary from 2011 to 2016 during the administration of the late President Benigno Aquino III and as a Philippine Ambassador to the United States from 2001 to 2006.
He was known as "a staunch advocate of protecting and advancing national security and promoting the rights and welfare of Filipinos.”