By Raymund Antonio
Vice President Leni Robredo warned on Sunday the Duterte administration against resorting to a “knee-jerk reaction” such as cancelling the diplomatic passports of former government officials.
Robredo slammed the new policy that came in the wake of former Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario’s detention and denial of entry by Hong Kong immigration authorities on Friday, June 21.
“Ang reaksyon ng bansa natin imbes na ipagtanggol iyong mamamayan ng Pilipinas, parang sinisi pa at kinancel,” she said on her weekly radio show, “BISErbisyong Leni.”
(The reaction of our country instead of defending our citizen is to put the blame on the individual to make it seem like it was passport holder’s fault it was cancelled.)
“Kaya naglalagay ng pangamba, pagkalito sa iba nating mga kababayan. Sino ba iyong kinakampihan ng ating gobyerno?,” Robredo added.
(This is why it puts fear and confusion among our other countrymen. Which side is our government on?)
The Vice President questioned the Department of Foreign Affairs’ sudden move to cancel all courtesy diplomatic passports of ex-diplomats after the Del Rosario incident in Hong Kong.
The former top diplomat was carrying a diplomatic passport when the incident happened. His diplomatic passport was issued in December 2016, as approved by former Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. by virtue of Department Order No. 12-1993.
On June 18, the DFA Office of Consular Affairs- Diplomatic and Official Passport Section revalidated Del Rosario’s diplomatic passport for his business trip to Hong Kong. The passport revalidation is “provided by Section 14 of the Philippine Passport Act of 1996 and in accordance with existing DFA regulations.”
But according to Robredo, the DFA should have cancelled Del Rosario’s diplomatic passport a long time ago if he was indeed not allowed to use such passport.
“Bakit ki-nancel ngayon kung kailan nagkaroon ng problema. Kung talagang hindi dapat iyon ginagamit ng mga dating opisyal ng DFA, dapat noong natapos ‘yung termino, obligasyon ng DFA na i-cancel,” she said.
(Why was it only cancelled when there was a problem? If a former DFA official should not have been using it, the DFA has the obligation to cancel it when his (DFA official) term ends.)
Robredo suspected Del Rosario was detained and barred entry by Hong Kong like former Omdusman Conchita Carpio-Morales due to their complaint against Chinese President Xi Jinping before the International Criminal Court.
“Marami namang Pilipino pumupunta sa Hong Kong pero bakit sila? Sila talaga iyong si-net aside sa pagtanggap sa bansa kaya malamang konektado,” she said.
(Several Filipinos go to Hong Kong but why them? They were really set aside upon arrival that is why it could be connected.)