Zambales rep wants Polish consular officials booted out after hit-and-run
This undated file photo shows the House of Representatives session hall in Batasan Pambansa in Quezon City
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Zambales rep wants Polish consular officials booted out after hit-and-run

(Philstar.com) - February 8, 2021 - 7:43pm

MANILA, Philippines —A lawmaker from Zambales on Monday sought for government to declare as persona non grata Polish consular officials who hurled derogatory remarks hurled against Filipinos after a road accident.

Rep. Cheryl Montalla (Zambales, 2nd District) in a House resolution said Bartosz Wozniczko, Poland's vice consul, had "willfully, maliciously and feloniously" evaded arrest by Candelaria police after figuring in a hit-and-run where the victim sustained a broken arm.

The official had allegedly invoked diplomatic immunity when apprehended, and, when lawyers sent by Montalla tried to negotiate compensation for the victim, "he conceitedly and abrasively told my legal team [that] he will only shell out a measly sum of P10,000 to the victims because 'they are poor, anyway.'"

"Invoking the Vienna Convention of 1963, he argued that he is immune from suit and that the PNP cannot do anything about it," the Zambales congresswoman said in her speech at the chamber.

"However, when asked about his immunity papers and other documents to prove that he is in the exercise of his official function, he did not show anything to either the members of the PNP or my legal team."

Montalla's legal team had also told the Polish vice consul that the victim of the incident would need a surgical operation that would cost between P30,000 to P90,000. 

'Filipinos are scammers'

When pressed about this, another person who appeared to have been the official's "boss" stepped out of the vehicle and warned police that they would report the encounter to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.

Lorenzana has no administrative authority over cops as the Philippine National Police is under the interior department.

"The car driver further claimed that he will not enter into a compromise agreement because my legal team and the members of the PNP only wanted a hefty sum as settlement to the aggrieved party," Montalla said. "He insinuated that their insistence was because of the fact that they will be getting “shares” from that deal."

She added that the vice consul blurted out that "Filipinos are scammers" and went on to hurl verbal insults to her legal team and members of the police present.

"Beyond the legalities of this horrible incident, what totally abhors me are the discriminatory statements of the said vice consul and his unidentified 'boss' toward us, Filipinos," the solon said.

The Polish Embassy in Manila has yet to issue a statement on the incident.

Diplomatic immunity in performance of official functions

Meaning "unwelcome person," persona non grata in the Philippines would mean that an individual would be prohibited by government from entering its jurisdiction after violating ordinances and laws.

The Vienna Convention of 1963 states that consul officials "in the performance of his functions, shall be protected by the receiving State" and "shall enjoy personal inviolability and shall not be liable to any form of arrest or detention."

But the Supreme Court in a January 2000 ruling said immunity is not absolute and only applies to official acts, denying a motion for reconsideration by a Chinese national who was charged with slander by his Filipino secretary.

"Slandering a person could not possibly be covered by the immunity agreement because our laws do not allow the commission of a crime, such as defamation, in the name of official duty," said then Associate Justice Consuelo Ynares-Santiago in the high court's resolution. "It is well-settled principle of law that a public official may be liable in his personal private capacity for whatever damage he may have caused by his act done with malice or in bad faith or beyond the scope of his authority or jurisdiction." — Christian Deiparine with reports from Xave Gregorio

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