MANILA Philippines — Speculations abound about who would replace Albert del Rosario Philippine ambassador to Washington D.C. Del Rosario resigned from his post on June 13.

Alberto G. Romulo secretary of Foreign Affairs denied the rumor that he will be appointed as the next ambassador to the U.S. saying “I have no interest or desire for any ambassadorial assignment.”

Romulo is on a three-week official trip aimed at strengthening ties with five countries. His first stop was Washington D.C. to attend the celebrations commemorating the centenary of Filipino migration to the U.S. He will also be visiting Azerbaijan Switzerland the Vatican Italy and Spain.

Lauro L. Baja Jr. Philippine permanent representative to the United Nations in turn will reportedly replace Romulo. Diplomatic sources told the Journal that Baja is currently in Manila “campaigning [for the post].” Baja’s post is being taken over by Hilario Davide Jr. retired chief justice of the Philippine Supreme Court whose appointment was just confirmed by the Philippine Congress’ Commission on Appointments. Sources said if Romulo declines the Washington post President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo may appoint Baja instead.

Baja is being backed by the influential Iglesia ni Kristo (Church of Christ) which has an estimated three to 10 million members worldwide and in the Philippines the church accounts for about 3% of the total population according to government estimates. The INC was credited for voting many Philippine presidents into power including Arroyo as its members usually vote as a bloc for whomever its chief minister endorses. Malacañang however continues to keep mum on the rumored musical chairs at the foreign affairs postings.

The Washington D.C. posting has been the most coveted assignment among political appointees and career diplomats.

Arroyo accepted Del Rosario’s resignation “with deep regret” adding that the ambassador “leaves government with an exemplary record as a diplomat and public servant.” His resignation takes effect on July 8.

While it was reported that Del Rosario wanted to return to the private sector since June 2004 his statement did not mention the resignation giving rise to speculations that he may have been forced out.

“I have been recalled and will therefore end my posting as the Philippine ambassador to the United States effective July 8. My departure from Washington D.C. shortly thereafter will enable my early return to the private sector ” Del Rosario said in a statement released through the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs on June 13.

Del Rosario announced his resignation on the Independence Day Celebration hosted by the Philippine Embassy in Washington on June 12.

Patricia Ann V. Paez consul at the Philippine Embassy told the Journal that there were several reasons Del Rosario wanted to leave his post. “The first reason is to tend to his financial security second is to tend to the needs of children and third is to be able to spend more time with his grandchildren ” she said. She also confirmed that the ambassador wanted to resign two years ago. She said that Del Rosario would be rejoining the private sector but did not say which company he would be working for.

Del Rosario has largely been credited with turning around the decision of the California Public Employees Retirement System which earlier decided to drop the Philippines from its list of “permissible investment” destinations. In 2005 the ambassador coordinated a massive lobbying effort with the help of U.S.-based financial experts and Philippine government officials to force CalPERS’s financial consultant to review its economic assessment of the Philippines. The consultant Wiltshire Associates finally relented and changed its score on the Philippines allowing the country to rejoin its recommended investment list for CalPERS.

Born in Manila in 1939 Del Rosario attended Xavier High School in New York City and subsequently graduated from New York University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Economics.

Prior to joining government on Oct. 30 2001 he served on the board of directors of over 50 firms. His business career for more than four decades spanned the insurance banking real estate shipping telecommunications consumer products retail pharmaceutical and food industries.

Ambassador del Rosario is chairman of Gotuaco Del Rosario and Associates Inc. Asia Traders Insurance Corp. Philippine Center Management Board Inc. (San Francisco and New York) and he serves as Director in numerous companies and non-profit organizations including Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) Infrontier (Philippines) Inc. First Pacific Co. (Hong Kong) PT Indofood Sukses Makmur Tbk (Indonesia) and the Philippine Cancer Society.

In addition after chairing the development of Pacific Plaza on Ayala Avenue Makati City in the early 90s Del Rosario headed the development of Pacific Plaza Towers Metro Pacific Corp.’s signature project at Fort Bonifacio. Metro Pacific is the Philippine subsidiary of First Pacific Co. which is owned by the influential Salim family of Indonesia. First Pacific also owns Philippine telecommunications giant PLDT. MBJ