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The Department of Foreign Affairs is canceling diplomatic passports issued to non-diplomatic personnel, following the denial of entry by Hongkong authorities of former Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario June 21.
“The DFA Office of Consular Affairs (OCA) will be issuing an order shortly, cancelling all courtesy diplomatic passports,” according to a four- paragraph statement issued by the DFA’s Office of Public Diplomacy that gave a brief timeline of the issuance of Del Rosario’s diplomatic passport.
“On 20 December 2016, former Secretary Albert F. Del Rosario was issued a diplomatic passport by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), as approved by then Secretary Perfecto R. Yasay, Jr. by virtue of Department Order No. 12-1993. The said diplomatic passport is valid until 19 December 2021.
“On 18 June 2019, the DFA Office of Consular Affairs (OCA)- Diplomatic and Official Passport Section (DOPS) revalidated former SFA Del Rosario’s diplomatic passport, as provided by Section 14 of the Philippine Passport Act of 1996 and in accordance with existing regulations, for a business trip to Hong Kong.
“Since the issuance of the 1993 Department Order, diplomatic passports have been issued to former DFA secretaries as well as ambassadors as a matter of courtesy, not to confer them with diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Convention, but only to accord them the usual port courtesies at immigration points abroad.
“The DFA Office of Consular Affairs (OCA) will be issuing an order shortly, cancelling all courtesy diplomatic passports.”
Del Rosario was detained by Hongkong Immigration for five hours on Friday before finally being denied entry into the territory and deported back to Manila, his last point of origin.
The former Foreign Secretary was to attend a board meeting of the Hongkong-listed First Pacific Company Ltd, where he sits as non-executive, independent director.
Del Rosario is a regular visitor to Hongkong but last Friday’s trip was his first since filing a communication in May before the International Criminal Court about crimes against humanity allegedly committed by Chinese President Xi Jinping and other Chinese officials in connection with China’s aggressive island-building and occupation of islands in the Spratlys in the South China Sea which are also beingclaimed the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.
“I think, clearly, the bottom line is I was being harassed or we were being harassed and I think the reason might be, if you follow the trend, the honorable Ombudswoman (Conchita Carpio-Morales) who’s here, she went through the same experience,” del Rosario told reporters at the airport upon his arrival in Manila Friday afternoon.
“And the link to that experience which turned out to be consequential to us was the communique that we sent to ICC (International Criminal Court).”
Del Rosario received from Hongkong authorities came weeks after former Ombudsman Morales, a fellow China critic, was briefly detained in Hongkong May 21.
Morales, who as traveling with family on holiday that time, was eventually allowed entry to the territory but decided to fly back to Manila even after Hongkong Immigration allowed her entry.