Robredo hits 'knee-jerk reaction' to cancel courtesy diplomatic passports

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Vice President Leni Robredo (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 23) — Vice President Leni Robredo on Sunday called out the decision to cancel the “courtesy” diplomatic passports issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to former top diplomats, after former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario was denied entry to Hong Kong.

Robredo, in her weekly radio show BISErbisyong LENI, said government should have long cancelled those special passports if they had issues with them.

Eh kung talagang hindi dapat iyon ginagamit ng mga dating opisyal ng DFA, dapat noong natapos yung termino, obligasyon ng DFA na i-cancel na. Bakit ngayon lang?” she said.

[Translation: If the former DFA officials should not be using those passports, the DFA is obligated to cancel at the end of the officials’ terms. Why cancel them now?]

The Vice President called the DFA’s move a “knee-jerk reaction.”

Ito parang knee-jerk reaction na naman iyong reaksyon kasi iyong reaksyon ng bansa natin, instead na ipagtanggol iyong mamamayan ng Pilipinas, parang sinisisi pa at kinansel (ang passport),” she said.

[Translation: This is like a knee-jerk reaction since our country, instead of protecting the citizens of the Philippines, is somehow blaming its citizens and cancelled their passports.]

Del Rosario was slated to attend a business meeting Friday in Hong Kong, using his "courtesy" diplomatic passport. However, he was detained for hours at the semi-autonomous region’s international airport.

The former top diplomat along with ex-Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales filed a complaint before the International Criminal Court last March against Chinese President Xi Jinping and other officials for so-called crimes against humanity in the West Philippine Sea. Morales was also denied entry to Hong Kong in May, after hours of detention in Immigration.

Del Rosario is doubtful the DFA will push through with the move to cancel the courtesy diplomatic passports, as these were a “tradition” in the department.