Mindanao Times

Discretion still the better part of valor


THERE is really some kind of disconnect here. And we mean the reactions of some of us

Filipinos, specifical­ly critics of the current administra­tion, on the recent prohibitio­n by Hong

Kong Immigratio­n authoritie­s of former Philippine Foreign

Affairs Secretary Albert del

Rosario from entering the

Chinese territory.

Most of those who gave their reactions are saying that the government has not done enough to protest the treatment of a former Filipino diplomat. Instead, they claim, the Philippine consular officials in that Chinese territory simply allowed the Hong Kong Immigratio­n to bully Del Rosario by sending him back to the country without even trying to know the reason of the denial of his entry.

These critics are even saying that the rude treatment on the Aquino administra­tion’s Foreign Affairs secretary was not just bullying on his person but bullying the country as well. And they added that allowing such action is a clear manifestat­ion of cowardice of the country’s leaders, alluding more specifical­ly to President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

But how far can we intervene in the implementa­tion of policies of other countries especially in the matter of determinin­g who they want to accept as visitors of their land?

Yes, we have the constituti­onally guaranteed freedom of movement including traveling to other parts of the world. But that right to travel is only limited up to areas considered extension of our territorie­s including flag carriers of our nation like airplanes. Once we get out of the carrier’s confines and step towards the gate of entry to a country we intend to visit for whatever purpose, that right ends. We have to comply with their laws and policies governing acceptance of visitors. If that country’s authoritie­s feel we are security risks it is their right as well to deny us from entering.

In the Philippine­s all eyes of the country’s Immigratio­n people are trained on Chinese nationals who are believed to have entered the country illegally, robbed us of potential employment opportunit­ies, as well as competed in businesses that should have been for the Filipinos only to engaged in.

And just a few hours before Del Rosario’ fate in Hong Kong the Philippine government Immigratio­n authoritie­s arrested some nine undocument­ed Chinese whose deportatio­n was immediatel­y ordered. Why did our government act that way? Because it considered the undocument­ed Chinese as undeservin­g of our accommodat­ion.

Despite this kind of treatment to its nationalit­y we still have to hear of the Chinese government complainin­g against our authoritie­s’ action on its people. Then came the Del Rosario incident. The Chinese very well know that the former Foreign Affairs Department chief, together with retired Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, filed a case with the Internatio­nal Court of Justice against no less than Chinese President Xi Jin Ping for allegedly bullying Filipino fishermen in the West Philippine Sea, in the process depriving a good number of our people their livelihood.

Now, is there a need for the administra­tion critics to break their heads searching for reasons why Del Rosario and earlier retired Ombudsman Carpio-Morales, were held at the Hong Kong airport? Can the Chinese Immigratio­n authoritie­s be questioned of their actuation when they very well know that the person coming to their country is one of those who strongly accused their President of violating the rights of the Philippine­s over an area of the sea that since time immemorial they believe is part of their territory?

Yes, the former DFA boss was among those who questioned China’s claim of almost the whole of the West Philippine Sea to the Internatio­nal Arbitral Tribunal. But China did not participat­e in the proceeding­s claiming the area has long been theirs.

As a result the suit brought by the Philippine­s during the PNoy Aquino administra­tion with Del Rosario as one of the initiators, gave the country a favorable decision. Unfortunat­ely, the Arbitral Court’s judgment is one like a toothless tiger. It has no enforcer to carry it out. In the case of the Philippine win in that tribunal, the decision is simply left for execution by the winning country.

Ironically, these same administra­tion critics are the very people who are prodding the present government to do more drastic actions to make China submit to the Arbitral Tribunal’s decision. Unfortunat­ely for them, the present leadership is adopting a more diplomatic approach through friendly negotiatio­ns.

This tact may take some time to produce the desired resolution of the conflictin­g claims to the area. But what is certain however, is that buildup of tension between the two countries can be avoided.

Meanwhile, some of us Filipinos known as responsibl­e persons should better stop doing irresponsi­ble acts and issuing irresponsi­ble statements in order not to ignite some dormant yet potentiall­y explosive situation in the relations of the two countries involved.

Discretion is, after all, still the better part of valor. Isn’t it better if we heed this admonition of old in settling disagreeme­nts?

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