Hong Kong bars ex-Department of Foreign Affairs chief

Albert Del Rosario

Hong Kong shuts door on former Philippine Foreign Secretary who sued Chinese leader in int’l court.

FORMER Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs Albert del Rosario was barred from entering Hong Kong yesterday morning.

Del Rosario arrived in Hong Kong to attend the First Pacific Shareholders meeting.

It was learned that Immigration authorities in Hong Kong held Del Rosario at the airport upon his arrival and held him at the airport lounge for unclear reasons.

A Philipine government official who refused to be named said the ordeal of Del Rosario at the Hong Kong airport has something to do with the case he and former ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales filed at the International Criminal Court (ICC) against Chinese President Xi Jinping regarding China’s environmentally destructive activities in the South China Sea.

In an earlier incident Hong Kong Immigration authorities also held Morales at the airport for four hours for security reasons.

Del Rosario and Morales filed a complaint against Xi before the ICC for “atrocious” actions in the South China Sea and in Philippine waters.

They said they filed their case in the ICC because China’s actions constitute a crime against humanity.

The complaint outlines how Xi and other officials of China, in implementing China’s systematic plan to control the South China Sea, have committed crimes over which the ICC has jurisdiction.

Del Rosario stressed that Xi was “directly” responsible for the plight of Filipino fishermen, with China’s wreaking havoc on marine resources with its building of artificial islands.

He also included in the complaint Chinese state councilor and foreign minister Wang Yi and Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jinhua.

Del Rosario and Morales said in their complaint that grave consequences of Chinese actions justify the ICC’s involvement in accordance with the principles of the Rome Statute that “the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole must not go unpunished and their effective prosecution must be ensured.”

They urged the ICC to immediately initiate a preliminary examination of their complaint “if only so the Court can apprise itself of Chinese crimes committed not only against the Filipino people, but also against people of other nations, which crimes are already known to the international community.”

Del Rosario called their initiative another “David and Goliath” case aimed at disciplining the Chinese leader and making him and other officials accountable for destroying precious marine resources.

An airport source said “Del Rosario’s intention was very clear to put the Duterte administration in the bad light and set off a firestorm of criticism in the international community.

“He already knew from the very start that he will suffer the same scenario as Morales if he goes to Hong Kong,” the airport insider said.

As of this writing, the Foreign Affairs Department in Manila has yet to release a statement regarding the Del Rosario issue.        
DOJ asks why

In his capacity as officer-in-charge of the Executive department, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra yesterday asked the Department of Foreign Affairs to find out why former foreign secretary Albert del Rosario was denied entry to Hong Kong, and to give the former official all assistance if necessary.

“As OIC, I will request the DFA to find out the reason for former SFA’s exclusion and extend whatever assistance could be given to him as a former foreign minister of our country,” Guevarra said.

“But personally, I believe that the lesson derived from former Ombudsman Morales’ similar experience should have been clear to him,” he continued.

Del Rosario arrived in Hong Kong on Friday morning for a business meeting. He was due to return to Manila on Friday night.
Guevarra as OIC

Malacañang had designated Guevarra as officer-in-charge of the Executive Department from June 21 to 23 while President Duterte is in Bangkok, Thailand to attend the 34th Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) Summit.

“Whereas, to ensure the continuity of government service, it is necessary to designate an Officer-in-Charge to take care of the day-to-day operations and oversee the general administration of the Executive Department,” Special Order 631 read in part.

CC case

Senator Panfilo Lacson believed that the experience of two former government officials, who were held and questioned upon entry at the Hong Kong airport on separate occasions, had something to do with the case they filed against Chinese President Xi Jinping at International Criminal Court (ICC).

The two former officials filed in March a case against Xi for crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

“That is not an assumption. It is what it’s all about,” said Lacson when asked about the assumption that the two former Philippine officials’ ordeal had something to do with the ICC case.

However, the senator stressed that the denial of entry is the right of a host country, Hong Kong, in this case.

“First, a visa is a matter of privilege and not a right, as far as a visiting foreigner is concerned, and therefore denial of entry is within the right of the host country,” Lacson explained.

“Detention is another matter and the visitor is entitled to counsel and due process,” he added.
 “Having said that, it is the obligation of our embassies or consulates posted abroad to extend all kinds of assistance, legal and humanitarian, even medical to any Filipino,” the lawmaker further said.

With Hector Lawas, Marlon Purificacion