‘Don’t abuse PH hospitality’

May 15, 2024 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 129 views

Acidre to erring foreign diplomats:

HOUSE Deputy Majority Leader and Tingog Partylist Rep. Jude Acidre cautioned foreign diplomats against abusing Filipino hospitality, stating that they could be sent back home or face the full force of the law for any violations committed in the Philippines.

“I think it’s only reasonable that people who abuse our hospitality and abuse the privileges that are accorded in goodwill should also be sent home,” Acidre, chairman of the House Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs, said during the regular press conference at the House of Representatives.

Acidre’s statement comes in response to Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla’s directive for the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to undertake a comprehensive investigation into alleged illegal activities involving foreign diplomats within the country.

While the Department of Justice (DoJ) refrained from naming diplomats from specific countries in its statement, it noted reports regarding the Chinese embassy’s release of alleged transcripts and recordings of a conversation purportedly involving a Chinese diplomat and a Philippine military official regarding Ayungin Shoal.

Acidre supported Remulla’s statement that while foreign diplomats enjoy privileges and immunities, it is equally their responsibility to respect the laws and regulations of the host country.

“To make it simple, diplomats are guests of our country. While they have their own privileges and immunity, it still boils down to the reality that they are guests of the receiving country,” Acidre pointed out.

He added, “In fact, they cannot exercise any of those diplomatic immunities until they are officially received by the host state. So, I think we cannot argue against that and in that light, we are supporting the statement of the Justice Secretary in that regard.”

As regards specific situation involving the Chinese diplomat, Acidre expressed his concern over potential illegal activities.

“Wiretapping is illegal in the country,” he noted. “If it can be established that this Chinese diplomat has wiretapped or made a recording of phone conversations and leaked these documents, then they must be held accountable under our laws.”

Acidre stressed that such actions go beyond what is guaranteed by diplomatic immunity, especially depending on the rank of the diplomatic official involved.

In the same press conference, 1-Rider Partylist Rep. Rodge Gutierrez expressed full support for the NBI probe, saying the agency has jurisdiction in investigating alleged crimes perpetrated within the country.

“If we discuss the NBI’s probe, it doesn’t even necessitate a conversation about diplomatic immunity. Acts of alleged crimes perpetuated in the country would probably be within the jurisdiction of the NBI to probe,” Gutierrez explained.

Echoing Remulla’s remarks, Gutierrez pointed out that diplomatic immunity is not absolute.

“Upon acceptance by the host country, it comes with conditions. Even then, for any reason whatsoever, there are still penalties that the executive branch can impose,” Gutierrez said.

“Whether or not there would be criminal culpabilities, the executive is free to exercise expulsion or urging the host country to pursue a criminal prosecution in their country,” he added.

Speaking specifically about the alleged wiretapping incident involving the Chinese Embassy, Gutierrez raised questions about its legitimacy.

“If it might have been even a personal conversation, if it is even true, then it might possibly not be covered by diplomatic immunity,” he suggested.