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Guevarra: Del Rosario should’ve learned from Morales’ experience

Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario should have learned from the experience of former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales who was temporarily barred from entering Hong Kong last month, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Friday.

Guevarra, the officer-in-charge of the national government during President Rodrigo Duterte’s participation to the 34th ASEAN Summit in Thailand this weekend, said he would ask the Department of Foreign Affairs to look into the incident and extend “whatever assistance” could be given to Del Rosario.

“But personally, I believe that the lesson derived from former Ombudsman Morales' similar experience should have been clear to him,” the Cabinet official said in a message to reporters.

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

A diplomatic passport holder, Del Rosario said his detention at the Hong Kong airport was a violation of international law.

The former top diplomat cited the Vienna Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, an international treaty signed in 1961 that defines the framework for diplomatic relations between independent countries and specifies the privileges of a diplomatic mission that enable diplomats to perform their function without fear of coercion or harassment by the host country.

Del Rosario and Morales took China’s President Xi Jinping and other Chinese officials to the International Criminal Court in March for allegedly committing crimes against humanity in relation to Beijing’s activities in the disputed South China Sea.

On May 21, Morales went to Hong Kong for a family vacation but instead she was held for four hours at a room in the airport.

Morales, who described her ordeal as bullying by China, was eventually allowed to enter the bustling Asian city but the former Ombudsman and her family opted to return to the Philippines.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said then the Philippines "cannot intrude into the immigration laws of another country in the same way that they cannot intrude into ours."  — RSJ, GMA News