Panelo to Del Rosario: Did you purposely do that?
MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang has raised doubt on the intention of Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario in going to Hong Kong, where he was denied entry Friday similar with what happened to former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales barely a month ago.
President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesman and chief legal counsel, Salvador Panelo, expressed curiosity on why does Del Rosario have to go to Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China.
Del Rosario and Morales filed a case against Chinese President Xi Jinping in the International Criminal Court (ICC) last March. The two former high-ranking Philippine government officials said the “atrocious actions of Chinese officials in the South China Sea and within Philippine territory” constitute crimes against humanity that ICC can take legal action on.
Panelo said he wants to know if Del Rosario went to Hong Kong “deliberately” to experience the “same situation” that Morales suffered from authorities there.
“Why does he have to go there? That’s my question to him,” Panelo said in an interview over CNN Philippines.
“Is it deliberate on his part, so that he will have the same situation where he can use it as a forum for his advocacy?” he added.
Del Rosario was held and questioned at the Hong Kong International Airport on Friday morning. After six hours of questioning, he was denied entry and will be deported to the Philippines by Friday afternoon.
Last May 21, Morales went to Hong Kong for a vacation with her family. But immigration authorities there barred her from entering the country for being a “security threat.”
According to Panelo, the Philippine government cannot question Hong Kong’s authority to deny entry to foreigners.
“We cannot question the authority, the right of a country to stop or to investigate any guest or visitor who wanted to enter that particular country. That’s their exclusive domain,” Panelo said.
Earlier, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, who was named government caretaker while Duterte is in Thailand for the Asean Summit, said he has already instructed the Department of Foreign Affairs to assist Del Rosario.
However, Guevarra also said that the former top diplomat should have learned from Morales’ previous ordeal in Hong Kong.
(Editor: Katherine G. Adraneda)
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