Lorenzana starting to sound like China, says Del Rosario

MANILA, Philippines – Former foreign secretary Albert del Rosario criticized Defense Secretary Delfin "Del" Lorenzana for saying that the Philippines won an "empty victory" in its case against China at The Hague. 

"Let me say that I shudder at what my friend Del appears to be saying," Del Rosario said in an interview with Rappler on Tuesday, July 24, on the sidelines of the launch of Marites Dañguilan Vitug's landmark book Rock Solid. A retired general, Lorenzana once served as head of veterans affairs at the Philippine embassy in Washington, DC, when Del Rosario was ambassador.

"What Del appears to be saying is beginning to sound like the Chinese narrative," Del Rosario added.

"While responsible nations are hailing our tribunal outcome as a milestone to advance international law, rise our own defense minister appearing to now be denigrating an overwhelming victory for the Filipino people," the former foreign secretary said. 

Del Rosario made these remarks after Lorenzana said of the Hague ruling, "We won but it is an empty victory." Lorenzana also said the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the registry for the Philippines' case, is "not under the United Nations." 

"Del also appears to say that our case has nothing to do with the UN," said Del Rosario, who pointed out that the ruling was based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the so-called Constitution for the Oceans.

"Our case was decided under UNCLOS, which was a convention of the United Nations. The decision or ruling for the Philippines is now an integral part of international law," he said. 

Like Del Rosario, Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio also hit Lorenzana for his remarks. "I never expected that our defense secretary would call the ruling an empty victory, echoing the propaganda line of China," Carpio said at the launch of Rock Solid.

Del Rosario earlier criticized Lorenzana for saying that former president Benigno Aquino III "mismanaged" the Philippines' sea dispute with China. He said it appears Lorenzana "is being used as a propagandist." 

Del Rosario said he and Lorenzana "are very close friends, having worked together for many years in Washington, DC." – Rappler.com

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.