FOREIGN AFFAIRS Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr. has asserted that cancelling the diplomatic passports extended to former secretaries of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is not unlawful, as opposed to the claim of Albert F. del Rosario.

“It is not ‘unlawful’; it is a courtesy to those who have ceased doing the job requiring blue passports. We don’t want to have them out there dishonored by foreign immigration by rejection,” Mr. Locsin said in a social media post on Monday.

“We may restore it but insist it be the only passport.”

The DFA on Saturday announced the cancellation of all courtesy diplomatic passports after Mr. del Rosario, a former head of the department, was denied entry to Hong Kong.

Mr. del Rosario and retired Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, along with a group of fishermen, asked the International Criminal Court in March this year to conduct a preliminary examination against Chinese President Xi Jinping, among others, on the harassment of Filipino fishermen in the West Philippine Sea.

Mr. Locsin said the cancelation was not the result of a joint agreement with the government of Hong Kong, but the sole decision of the DFA.

“There is no agreement with HK; only my decision to stop our diplomatic passports being dishonored when extended as a courtesy that does not confer Geneva rights, so we are powerless to protest,” he said in a separate post.

Department Order 12-93 allowed the issuance of diplomatic passports by courtesy to government officials, including former DFA secretaries, which Mr. Locsin said do not necessarily grant diplomatic immunity.

Mr. del Rosario’s diplomatic passport was issued in December 2016 and was revalidated by the DFA Office of Consular Affairs (OCA)-Diplomatic and Official Passport Section (DOPS) this month.

Moreover, Mr. Locsin said a Department Circular revising the guidelines on the issuance of diplomatic passports is underway.

“Until such time as we can reconcile the guidelines, all courtesy diplo(matic) passports are deemed cancelled. DFA will issue circular in time. Okay, that’s clear,” he said.

“If after revision of guidelines for diplomatic passports it is still extended to ex-diplomats, Del Rosario gets one too. He can reject it. But the courtesy should cancel the brown passport. One citizen one passport. We do not discriminate against our own citizens,” he added. — Charmaine A. Tadalan