Del Rosario mulls protest over HK’s failure to respect his diplomatic passport
MANILA, Philippines — Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said he is looking into the possibility of filing a diplomatic protest over the failure of Hong Kong authorities to respect his diplomatic passport.
The former foreign affairs chief was denied entry to Hong Kong when he arrived there on Friday morning “despite using a Philippine diplomatic status passport.”
“I’ve also received a suggestion the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) that we should look into the possibility of protesting the failure of the Hong Kong authorities to respect the diplomatic passport and this would be a violation of the Vienna convention,” he told reporters at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) when he arrived from Hong Kong Friday afternoon.
He was referring to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations which was adopted in 1961.
The treaty codifies rules of international law on diplomatic intercourse, privileges, and immunities.
However, Del Rosario said he has yet to determine where the said protest would be lodged.
He added that he will probably have a meeting with former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales over the weekend to discuss the details of the diplomatic protest.
Last March, Del Rosario and Carpio-Morales filed a communication against Chinese President Xi Jinping before the International Criminal Court (ICC) for depriving Filipino fishermen of their livelihood, aggression and environmental degradation in the West Philippine Sea.
Both were held and questioned at the Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) on separate occasions.
Del Rosario was held for questioning by immigration authorities at the HKIA when he arrived there at 7:40 a.m. on Friday while Carpio-Morales, suffered a similar ordeal when she traveled to Hong Kong last May 21.
According to Carpio-Morales, a diplomatic protest should be coursed through one government to another.
“The secretary (Del Rosario) said that he is going to file a protest. Well, I really don’t know where he intends to file a protest. But usually, this is from country to country, so there ought to be a diplomatic protest on the part of the Philippines,” the former ombudsman who welcomed Del Rosario when he landed in Manila told reporters.
“Because to begin with they (Hong Kong authorities) did not honor his diplomatic passport, under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, one who holds a (diplomatic) passport should be given the respect and should be protected from any harm to his person, his liberty and his dignity,” she added.
However, some officials questioned the former Cabinet secretary’s use of a diplomatic passport for his travel abroad.
Senator Vicente Sotto III said that under the Philippine Passport Act of 1996, issuance of a diplomatic passport does not include former cabinet secretaries.
Under the law, the diplomatic passport may be used for “official mission or official travel.”
READ: Sotto questions Del Rosario’s use of diplomatic passport https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1132819/sotto-questions-del-rosarios-use-of-diplomatic-passport#ixzz5rULrZnoo
“Kapag retired official ka ba pwedeng naka-diplomatic passport ka pa rin? Kapag ako ‘di na ako senador pwede ko pa ba gamitin ‘yung diplomatic passport ko?” Sotto earlier asked during an interview at the Senate.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, meanwhile, said Del Rosario “may have misused” his diplomatic passport claiming the latter’s trip is “private in nature” and is not sanctioned by the Philippine government.
“Mr. Del Rosario may have misused a diplomatic passport in his travel to Hong Kong, a trip which is private in nature and is in no way related to government or foreign service,” Panelo said in a statement.
“As the country’s former Chief Diplomat, Mr. Del Rosario should have known or have been alerted to the proper use of diplomatic passports and other travel documents,” he added.
Del Rosario said the DFA was made aware that he will be using his diplomatic passport for his Hong Kong trip.
“Before I went to Hong Kong, I wrote [to] the DFA that I was going to be traveling on business and would be using a diplomatic passport,” Del Rosario said.
“So they took that information and they gave it to Hong Kong, the consulate. The Hong Kong consulate wrote a letter to the Hong Kong authorities or whether they had received it,” he added. (Editor: Eden Estopace)
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