By Roy Mabasa
Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario returned to the country Friday afternoon after he was denied entry into Hong Kong by immigration authorities.
A report said that Del Rosario was seen seated at a special lane outside the immigration holding area. This was confirmed by Philippine Consul General Antonio Morales in a radio interview Friday morning, saying the Hong Kong immigration has yet to allow Del Rosario entry an hour after his arrival.
The Consul General said that prior to Del Rosario’s arrival, they already wrote the Hong Kong immigration requesting that the latter be received in a special lane as a matter of “consideration.”
Morales said they received no response from Hong Kong authorities.
Last month, former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales was also held for hours by Hong Kong immigration when she, together with family members, went there for a vacation.
She later opted to go back to Manila even while she was belatedly granted entry by the Hong Kong immigration.
In March, Del Rosario and Morales charged the Chinese leader before the ICC to “demand accountability” and “check impunity” over the destruction of marine resources and the loss of livelihood of Filipino fishermen.
Senator Panfilo M. Lacson, a member of the Senate majority bloc, said he is certain that the ordeal of two former ranking Philippine government officials in Hong Kong is related to the case they filed against the Chinese leader.
With Del Rosario’s predicament, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, in his capacity of government officer-in-charge (OIC) while President Duterte is attending the ASEAN summit, instructed the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to look into the former DFA secretary’s case.
“As OIC, I will request the DFA to find out the reason for former SFA’s (Del Rosario) exclusion and extend whatever assistance could be given to him as a former foreign minister of our country,” said Guevarra.
But Guevarra said Del Rosario should have already expected it since former Ombudsman Morales also experienced a similar incident in Hong Kong.
“But personally, I believe that the lesson derived from former Ombudsman Morales’ similar experience should have been clear to him,” he stated.
Senator Richard J. Gordon said Hong Kong authorities acted with “disrespect” and “exhibited lack of good judgment” in the manner they treated Del Rosario.
“The maintenance of good and friendly relations, bilateral or multilateral, state to state, people to people, is a main objective of every government,” he said.
The Department of Foreign Affairs has yet to issue a formal statement. (With reports from Jeffrey G. Damicog and Mario B. Casayuran)