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Phl ex-foreign secretary back in Manila after being held at HK airport

21 June 2019

By The SUN
Del Rosario shows his diplomatic passport on arrival in Manila (ABS-CBN photo)

Former Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario has returned to Manila after being barred entry to Hong Kong, and detained at the airport for about six hours before being allowed to leave.

The country’s former top diplomat arrived at Ninoy Aquino International Airport shortly after 4pm today, Jun 21, aboard a Cathay Pacific Airways flight.

Del Rosario, who is 79, called his detention in Hong Kong as “harassment.” He said that despite repeated questioning, Hong Kong immigration authorities merely said he was barred for “an immigration reason.”
Del Rosario’s ordeal came just a month after the Philippines’ former Ombudswoman, Conchita Carpio-Morales, was also barred entry to Hong Kong.

The two jointly filed a case against Chinese President Xi Jinping at the International Criminal Court for alleged crimes against humanity, stemming from China’s incursions in the West Philippine Sea.

The elder statesman also led the team that successfully won the Philippines’ arbitration case against China over the resource-rich waters.
Observers say these were clearly the reasons why Del Rosario was denied entry to Hong Kong, which is a special administrative region of China.

Del Rosario, who flew to Hong Kong to attend a board and shareholders meeting of the First Pacific group, also showed to reporters in Manila his diplomatic passport that failed to stop him being barred.

He decried this as a violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
But Philippine government officials showed little sympathy for what the elderly former cabinet secretary was made to go through in Hong Kong.

Senate President Tito Sotto even questioned Del Rosario’s used of a diplomatic passport when he was no longer in government.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, who is acting as government caretaker while President Rodrigo Duterte is in Thailand, said Del Rosario should have seen clearly what could happen to him, given Morales’ earlier experience.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo echoed the sentiment.

Nevertheless, Guevarra said he would ask the Department of Foreign Affairs to ask Hong Kong why Del Rosario was barred.

Like Morales, Del Rosario said he was held in isolation for nearly six hours, before Consulate officials led by Consul General Antonio Morales were allowed to see him.

But unlike Morales who was subsequently offered to enter Hong Kong along with her family members, Del Rosario was told to leave on the next available flight to Manila.

According to Corominas, the incident underlined the growing influence of China in Hong Kong, the reason why some two million people took to the streets here last week to protest a bill that could see arrested suspects being sent to the mainland for trial.

 “This raises the question of where Hong Kong is getting instructions from.”

Asked how Del Rosario coped with the detention, Corominas said he was patient at first, but as the hours passed, it was only his strong faith in God that helped him bear the diplomatic snub.

“God is more powerful than China,” he reportedly said.

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