Diplomatic passport issue a matter of grammar?
With due respect to all concerned (former foreign secretary Albert del Rosario, in particular), it is not correct to say that the Philippine Passport Act (Republic Act No. 8239) allows former ambassadors to keep and use their diplomatic passports even after their respective official tenures have expired. As a matter of fact, the word “former” is never used in the said act. Neither does any of its two most relevant provisions appear ambiguous as to be erroneously construed.
Article 3(g) defines ambassadors as “those who have been appointed as chiefs of mission and have served as ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary.” Article 7(a) identifies an ambassador as being one of those entitled to be issued diplomatic passports.
Note that the above provisions are all stated In the “present” and “present-perfect” tenses of the corresponding verbs. If the framers of the law had indeed wished to continue to entitle the former ambassadors to diplomatic passports, then they would have rather used the phrases “those who had been appointed” and “those who had served” in Article 3(g) above. They used “have” instead.
Moreover, as a matter of plain common sense: Why must a former ambassador still secure and be issued an ordinary, or his personal, passport if he can keep and use his previous diplomatic passport after some revalidation process by the Department of Foreign Affairs? It seems to me that former ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales understands the law correctly; she said in a recent television interview that after the lapse of her term as Ombudsman, she never used her diplomatic passport anymore. Meaning, she uses her personal passport.
With malice toward none, perhaps some people should better review their high school English grammar.
RUDY L. CORONEL, [email protected]
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