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DFA declares Panama diplomat persona non grata

The Philippine government has declared the Panamanian diplomat accused of raping a 19-year-old Filipino woman persona non grata (unwelcome person), the Department of Foreign Affairs said Saturday. This came after the Panamanian government, through its top envoy in Manila, refused to waive the diplomatic immunity of Erick Bairnals Shcks, 35, who is a member of the administrative and technical staff of the Panamanian Embassy. Late Friday afternoon of May 11, the Ambassador of Panama Roberto Carlos Vallarino delivered a "Note to the Department of Foreign Affairs" conveying that the Panamanian government had decided not to waive the immunity of the accused, the DFA said. "Immediately thereafter, the DFA declared Mr. Shcks persona non grata (PNG),” a DFA statement said. Under the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, diplomats are given immunity from the criminal jurisdiction of the host state, including arrest and detention. But the DFA said Shcks "should be recalled or terminated of his functions by the Panamanian government." The Convention states: “The receiving State may at any time and without having to explain its decision, notify the sending State that the head of the mission or any member of the diplomatic staff of the mission is persona non grata." Moreover, the convention states that: “In any such case, the sending State shall, as appropriate, either recall the person concerned or terminate his functions with the mission.” “If no action is taken by the Panamanian government within a reasonable period of time after he was declared as PNG, the Philippine government will cease to recognize Shcks as a member of the Embassy and will accordingly be stripped of his immunities,” the DFA said. According to the DFA, the decision declaring Shcks as PNG was immediately conveyed to the Department of Justice for appropriate action. Schcks, was arrested on April 24 after the police received a complaint from his alleged Filipino woman victim. He allegedly forced the 19-year-old woman to sniff drug before raping her in his apartment on April 23. — Michaela P. del Callar /LBG, GMA News