Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario has “no business” using a diplomatic passport now that he no longer works for the government, President Rodrigo Duterte said Wednesday night.
Duterte made this remark after Del Rosario was denied entry at the Hong Kong International Airport, where he was held and questioned for six hours on June 21.
“When he was detained in Hong Kong, he was using a passport that he should not have used,” Duterte said in a mix of English and Filipino, during a speech at the 122nd founding anniversary of the Presidential Security Group at Malacañang Park.
“When you are no longer an employee of government, you have no business using a government diplomatic passport,” he added.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo earlier maintained that Del Rosario “created his own problem” by using his courtesy diplomatic passport for his recent personal trip to Hong Kong.
“He created his own problem so why blame the government for what happened to him,” Panelo said in a Palace briefing on Tuesday.
Del Rosario experienced the same ordeal as former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales when she traveled to Hong Kong on May 21. Carpio-Morales, however, did not use a diplomatic passport.
On March 13 this year, Del Rosario and Morales filed a complaint before the International Criminal Court against Chinese President Xi Jinping for alleged crimes against humanity in the disputed South China Sea.
A day after Del Rosario was denied entry at Hong Kong, the Department of Foreign Affairs canceled courtesy diplomatic passports issued to all former ambassadors and DFA secretaries.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Del Rosario was “asking for it” when he used his courtesy diplomatic passport.
“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 would be very apprehensive about your presence there automatically,” Sotto told ANC.
He added that Del Rosario’s courtesy diplomatic passport “was misused” because he was not on official mission when he went to Hong Kong.