MANILA — Malacañang on Friday said former Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Albert del Rosario, who was held in Hong Kong for five hours, may have mis-used his diplomatic passport during his trip there.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement, “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, also Chief Presidential legal counsel, said del Rosario’s case is different with that of former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, who was also previously held in Hong Kong, as the latter did not use a diplomatic passport.
“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.
Panelo noted del Rosario should have ensured that he can enter Hong Kong given Morales’ previous experience. The two filed a case against Chinese President Xi Jinping before the International Criminal Court.
Panelo said any country has a right to bar entry to a foreign person.
“Given the experience of the former Ombudsman, Mr. del Rosario should have been prudent enough to ensure that Hong Kong, a Chinese Special Administrative Region, has no objection to his entry,” he stated.
Despite being a staunch critic of the Duterte administration’s foreign policy, Panelo said the government will extend its assistance to del Rosario.
“The Philippine government, through our consular office in Hong Kong, continues to provide assistance to Mr. del Rosario, like all other Filipinos who may find themselves in distress abroad,” he added.
“Notwithstanding his penchant to capitalize and politicize issues related to PRRD’s foreign policy towards China, he remains a Filipino citizen entitled to protection and assistance from the Philippine government,” Panelo continued.
News reports cite del Rosario was held and questioned at the Hong Kong International Airport upon arriving there 7:40 a.m. Friday.