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20/12/2012: Secretary Del Rosario Pays Final Respects to Senator Inouye

20 December 2012

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. del Rosario flew to Washington to pay his final respects to Sen. Daniel Inouye whom he described as one of the greatest supporters of the Philippines in the United States.

“It was an honor for me to have been able to pay my final respects and bid farewell to such a giant of a man,” Secretary Del Rosario said after attending solemn ceremonies at the US Capitol on Thursday morning in honor of the late American legislator.

“Senator Inouye will always be remembered for his strong support for the Philippines. With his unexpected passing, we lost our leading champion in the US Congress,” said Secretary Del Rosario who later left Washington for another mission to the Middle East.

Secretary Del Rosario joined other ranking US officials and members of the diplomatic corps in paying their respects to the 88-year old legislator, who was considered to be the most powerful Asian-American in US politics. Among those who spoke were Senator Inouye were US Vice President Joe Biden, House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

According to the Philippine Embassy, Secretary Del Rosario personally conveyed President Aquino’s message of condolences to the senator’s widow, Irene Hirano Inouye, his son Kenny and other members of his family.  He was invited by Senator Inouye’s immediate family to sit with them throughout the entire ceremony.

“I expressed to Mrs. Inouye that we will always remember the good senator with respect, admiration and affection,” the Secretary said as he recalled how he and the senator remained in touch even after he returned to the private sector after his diplomatic stint in Washington. He said Senator Inouye was also among the first to send him a letter of congratulations after his appointment by President Aquino as Secretary of Foreign affairs in 2011.

The Secretary, who had established a deep friendship with Senator Inouye when he was envoy to the US, immediately flew to Washington after he was informed of his death by Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia Jr.

Senator Inouye passed away on Tuesday due to respiratory complications. At the time of his death, he was Senate President Pro Tempore and Chair of the powerful Committee on Appropriations. As the most senior member of the US Senate, he was third in line in presidential succession.

In an earlier letter of condolence to Mrs. Inouye, Secretary Del Rosario described Senator Inouye as a true friend of the Philippines. “He was our champion in the US Congress, advancing Philippines-US relations by the judicious exercise of leadership roles in the US Senate which made bipartisan support for our causes possible.”

“Senator Inouye will likewise be remembered by the families of countless Filipino World War II veterans who finally received the long-delayed recognition of their sacrifices,” the Secretary said, noting that “his tireless advocacy for their cause spoke eloquently of his sense of fairness.”

Ambassador Cuisia was also present at the Capitol Rotunda together with the members of the diplomatic corps. He said Senator Inouye will be remembered for sponsoring and supporting numerous bills that strengthened Philippine-American relations in the almost five decades that he served,

He said Senator Inouye was the staunchest supporter of Filipino veterans and was instrumental in the enactment of the Filipino Veterans Bill under the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. He was also the main sponsor of the Save Our Industries Act, a bill that will allow the export to the US of Philippine apparel made of American fabrics.

“Senator Inouye was also a very strong advocate of strengthening Philippine military capabilities and in developing Mindanao,” he said. ###