MANILA - Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario on Sunday said the Philippines was disrespected when Hong Kong authorities deported him despite his diplomatic passport.
Del Rosario, a staunch critic of Chinese incursions in the West Philippine Sea, was denied entry to the special administrative territory of China on Friday and sent back to Manila.
The country's former top diplomat said that since his passport carries the seal of the Republic of the Philippines, disrespecting the passport bearer "is to disrespect the Republic."
"The matter then becomes a legitimate issue for the state to deal with and defend its seal. For that we should rely on our public officials," Del Rosario said in a statement.
The Department of Foreign Affairs earlier said that it will cancel all courtesy diplomatic passports following what happened to Del Rosario.
Malacañang also said Del Rosario may have "misused" his diplomatic passport.
Del Rosario has said that he will not challenge the DFA's plan, even as he denied the palace's claim that he misused his passport.
But he also said the government was distracting the public from "the real issue."
He said the Philippines should instead address the disrespectful party and consider detaining and deporting one diplomat from the responsible state.
"Will we be afraid to even think of this? Will we again be acquiescent?" said Del Rosario.
The former top diplomat filed a complaint against Chinese President Xi Jinping before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in March this year for crimes allegedly committed in the West Philippine Sea.