Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. said it is the prerogative of a country to bar any foreigner from entering its territory.
Speaking to ANC, Yasay said it is unfair to accuse China of bullying former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales after they were both not allowed entry to Hong Kong.
"People accuse China for being a bully then but we must remember, the prerogative of allowing a foreigner from entering a country is always vested on the host country. For any reason, they think that you are a security risk or for any justifications, they could be barred entry. Now you call that bullying or not, the fact is that is the prerogative exclusively given to the host country," he said.
"Especially in this particular case, Secretary Del Rosario, to my mind, anticipated that he would be barred entry, whether or not he entered with a courtesy diplomatic passport or with a regular because of what had happened to Justice Morales, and he even accepted that. So I think it is not fair for us at this point in time to say that China was a bully. Given the facts as they are and confining the facts to what had happened, I think China had every prerogative to deny Secretary Del Rosario entry regardless of whether or not he carried a diplomatic passport," Yasay added.
Yasay also denied he approved the issuance of a courtesy diplomatic passport to Del Rosario during his time as foreign affairs secretary.
"I deny it because I do not have any recollection of doing that, and I know for a fact that the secretary is not involved in the process of approving passports, whether diplomatic or regular, official, where the applicants are clearly entitled to these passports," Yasay said.
Del Rosario, the country's top diplomat during the presidency of Benigno Aquino III, flew to Hong Kong for a business meeting on Friday but was barred entry for unspecified immigration reasons.
Del Rosario 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 had said in a statement.
Malacañang also said Del Rosario may have "misused" his diplomatic passport.