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MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) will cancel all courtesy diplomatic passports issued to former foreign affairs secretaries and ambassadors, following an incident in Hong Kong where former foreign secretary Albert del Rosario was barred entry.
“The DFA Office of Consular Affairs (OCA) will be issuing an order shortly, cancelling all courtesy diplomatic passports, and requiring their surrender for physical cancellation,” the DFA said in a statement on Saturday, June 22.
“The practice of issuing courtesy diplomatic passports to former DFA Secretaries and ambassadors shall henceforth be discontinued,” it added.
The DFA contradicted Del Rosario’s claim that barring him entry without a valid reason “is in disregard of travel with a diplomatic passport that is in violation of Vienna Convention.”
“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,” said the DFA.
Del Rosario was held for nearly 6 hours at the Hong Kong International Airport on Friday, June 21, and was eventually barred entry for “immigration reasons.” The former top diplomat suspected that this was due to the complaint he and former Philippine officials against Chinese president Xi Jinping before the the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Del Rosario was supposed to attend the board and shareholders meetings of Hong Kong-listed First Pacific Company Limited. Malacañang had criticized him for using a diplomatic passport, but Del Rosario said his Hong Kong trip was duly coordinated with the DFA which got in touch with the Hong Kong consulate. (READ: Del Rosario eyes protest vs Hong Kong over entry denial)
The DFA confirmed this coordination.
“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,” the DFA said on Saturday. – Rappler.com