Teddy Locsin: Ex-diplomats entitled to diplomatic passport
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. assured former foreign affairs secretary Albert del Rosario that he was not singled out in the cancellation of courtesy diplomatic passports.
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Teddy Locsin: Ex-diplomats entitled to diplomatic passport
Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) - June 24, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Former foreign affairs secretary Albert del Rosario was entitled to a courtesy diplomatic passport, but the country’s top diplomat said the privilege has been withdrawn.

“DFA asked, Why does HE have a courtesy blue passport. DFA: because under guidelines he is entitled to one so he has it properly. But this problem. Well then we abolish courtesy blue passports across the board of ex-diplomats. Others, eg special envoys still okay koz they work,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. tweeted on Saturday.

Locsin assured Del Rosario that he was not singled out in the cancellation of courtesy diplomatic passports.

“It was proper for ex-diplomats to have it as a courtesy minus Geneva rights. But tax exemption is not included – that’s granted by host country – and I refuse to ask for it. But if wrong for HIM to have it, wrong for others out of govt like him. All or no one in his category,” Locsin added.

“That’s equal protection,” he said.

A netizen told Locsin that by cancelling courtesy diplomatic passports the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has bowed to China.

“Her diplomats have lost the respect they earned through years of dedication to the nation. Made powerless. They are now servants too. A Filipino passport now means ‘servant of China’. Banana sellers and maids,” the netizen said.

Locsin said the cancellation of courtesy diplomatic passports is an example of supreme sovereign prerogative.

“If it is their only passport they will get complimentary brown 10-year validity. Right to travel is sacrosanct,” he said.

Diplomatic passports have been issued to former DFA secretaries as well as ambassadors as a matter of courtesy. But these did not confer them with diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Convention. The passports accorded them the usual port courtesies at immigration points abroad.

“The DFA Office of Consular Affairs will be issuing an order shortly, cancelling all courtesy diplomatic passports,” the DFA said in a statement Saturday.

Timing questioned

Vice President Leni Robredo yesterday slammed the decision of the DFA to cancel courtesy diplomatic passports issued to former officials and envoys, including that of Del Rosario.

“It’s another knee-jerk reaction of our country. Instead of defending the citizens of the Philippines, they blamed them and even cancelled (their courtesy diplomatic passports),” she said in her weekly program BISErbisyong Leni over dzXL.

Robredo, a lawyer, added that the Hong Kong airport authorities violated the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

The Vice President also questioned the timing of the DFA’s cancellation of diplomatic passport of former top diplomats and envoys.

“If they (DFA) really think that former officials should no longer hold diplomatic passport, why didn’t they cancel it even before this incident?” she stressed.

“They should have cancelled it when the officials’ term ended. Why only now? Because until it is cancelled, it remains effective,” she added.

Del Rosario’s diplomatic passport is valid until 2021.

The disrespect shown to a holder of a Philippine diplomatic passport when Hong Kong immigration authorities held and deported the bearer is also a disrespect to the Philippines, Del Rosario said yesterday.

“My diplomatic passport carries the seal of the Republic of the Philippines. To show disrespect for the passport bearer is to disrespect the republic,” Del Rosario said in a statement.

Del Rosario added that the matter becomes a legitimate issue for the Philippines to deal with and defend its seal.

“One option for us is to, in turn, consider detaining and deporting one diplomat from the responsible state,” he said. “Will we be afraid to even think of this? Will we again be acquiescent?”  – With Helen Flores

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