Random Thoughts

Implications of persona non grata declaration

By Leonardo Micua


THE Sangguniang Panlalawigan may be liable under the law by declaring officials of the Speed Gaming Inc., who are all citizens  of Pangasinan, as persona non grata in the light of definition I searched on Wikipedia of what the term “persona non grata” really  means.

Firstly, Wikipedia says that in diplomacy, a persona non grata (Latin: “person not appreciated”, pluralpersonae non gratae) is a foreign person whose entering or remaining in a particular country is prohibited by that country’s government.

Being so named, it was learned,  is the most serious form of censure which a country can apply to foreign diplomats, who are otherwise protected by diplomatic immunity from arrest and other normal kinds of prosecution.

In fact, Wikipedia gave a list of diplomats across ages declared as persona non grata for acts, covert or not, inimical to the host countries

Definitely, officials of Speed Gaming Inc. are not aliens staying in Pangasinan nor are non-Pangasinenses but are actually natives of Pangasinan from birth who have all the rights and privileges to stay in their beloved  province for as long  as they like.

In non-diplomatic usage, Wikipedia says referring to someone as persona non grata is to say that the person is “ostracised”. The person then is, for all intents and purposes, “culturally and is figuratively nonexistent”.

Telling them bluntly that they are unwelcome in their own place of birth is like showing them the door out since they have lost their privilege (by legislation) to stay in their own native home. Nobody can drive out a citizen from his own home, especially if its by act of a legislative body.

Therefore, any citizen when declared persona non grata in their own country can seek redress before the courts for having been ostracised and being declared nonexistent in their own place in order to restore their rights, honor and standing as citizens of the place.

When the SP declared suspended Pangasinan State University President Dexter Buted as persona non grata for the same reason that he snubbed the hearings set by the SP, the acts of the legislative body may not be questioned as Buted is from Batangas where he was at one time a Provincial Board Member.

Same is true when the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Dagupan declared its one-time chief of police during the martial law years, then Major Jose Bandong, as persona non grata as Bandong was not from Dagupan but Bayambang, Pangasinan.

Unfortunately, despite the resolution of the Dagupan SP,  which was not withdrawn despite the personal request of Bandong’s successor, Lt. Col. Carlos Ganibe, it was not a stumbling block for the then Major Bandong (the late Councilor Fred Sta. Maria called him “James Bond-ong”). He shone exceptionally in his next higher  assignments and eventually earned the coveted star on his shoulder as Chief Superintendent.

In the case of our good friend Jimmy Laking, a senior reporter and columnist of Baguio Midland Courier, he went to court after he was embarrassed having been declared persona non grata in his own hometown by the Sangguniang Bayan of La Trinidad, Benguet who accused him of biased reporting on a local issue – converting  parking area into a mall site.

The court favored Jimmy and you know what happened to the members of the Sangguniang Bayan who approved the resolution? They were all preventively suspended . . . by batches in order to ensure that the work in lawmaking by that body will not be paralysed.

Eventually, the La Trinidad SP made amends with Jimmy and withdrew the derogatory resolution.

In Ilocos Norte, the legislators used the same power of the SP to get even with Congressman Rodrigo Farinas who they believed initiated the probe on the alleged misuse of the tobacco excise tax of the province by the administration of Gov. Imee Marcos that led to the detention of the so-called Ilocos 6 in the House of Representatives.

But they were warned by Farinas that they could get jailed for maliciously declaring their own son who once served as city mayor, three terms as governor and three terms as congressman as unwanted in his own province.

With this admonition from Farinas, a lawyer and a bar topnotcher, the Ilocos SP withdrew its resolution.

The Ilocos Norte SP did it again lately when it declared a District Engineer of the DPWH persona non grata and were warned by some of the province’s elders they could be in legal trouble too as the engineer, who is also a native son, may use the argument raised by Congressman Farinas to get back his lost reputation that may have been tarnished by then SP resolution.

So, this power to declare a person as persona non grata, must be done with circumspect and not just as an outburst of emotion.

The move can blow up on the faces of those who may have maliciously instigated the move in their chambers.  Let the above mentioned cases serve as a food for thought not only for the Pangasinan SP alone but for all legislative bodies in the entire country.

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