Sotto regarding Del Rosario case: Gov’t is handling it right
MANILA, Philippines—Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III lauded the government on Thursday for doing the “right thing” in handling the case of former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario.
Del Rosario, who was using a diplomatic passport, was denied entry in Hong Kong last week.
The incident prompted the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to order the cancellation of all courtesy diplomatic passports issued to former top diplomats and ambassadors.
But Sotto defended the government’s move, saying the cancellation was prompted because Del Rosario misused his diplomatic passport.
He reiterated that under the Philippine Passport Act of 1996, only former presidents and vice presidents are allowed to be given courtesy diplomatic passports.
A provision of the law, however, provides that the President and the Secretary of Foreign Affairs may issue courtesy diplomatic passports for official mission.
“He [Del Rosario] was not there on official mission…” Sotto said in an interview over ABS CBN News Channel aired on Thursday.
“In my opinion, I think he was asking for it. You filed a case against the President of their country and you try to enter their country, I think they will be very apprehensive about your presence there.”
Del Rosario and former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales have filed a case for crimes against humanity before the International Criminal Court against Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Morales, who traveled to Hong Kong last month, was also held and questioned at the Hong Kong International Airport.
“So the Philippines has nothing to do with that. And for some sectors to expect us to take the cudgels for a former diplomat who is using a diplomatic passport that is not authorized because it was not an official mission, I think the way the government is handling is just the right way,” Sotto pointed out.
Even Del Rosario’s explanation that he notified the DFA that he would use his diplomatic passport before travelling to Hong Kong did not sit well with the Senate leader.
He said it was not proper for the former diplomat to just write or verbally inform the DFA.
“You have to bring your passport there and revalidate it. I’m Senate President, I do that,” he said. “Just tell them, letter or a phone call, that’s not proper.” (Editor: Jonathan P. Vicente)