Hong Kong police to ban march planned against gang violence on protesters

Robie de Guzman   •   July 26, 2019   •   1360

Riot police clash with anti-extradition bill protesters as they arrive to disperse protesters from the Legislative Council Building in Hong Kong, China, 02 July 2019.

Hong Kong police on Thursday (July 25) defended their decision to ban a march against mob violence in the Yuen Long district this coming weekend.

Organizers of the march planned to demonstrate against violence inflicted on anti-government protesters and commuters at a train station on Sunday (July 21) by an apparent gang wielding batons.

Marches, rallies and other political events in Hong Kong generally need to receive a so-called letter of no objection from police before going ahead, which was on Thursday withheld by police citing safety concerns.

Sunday’s unprecedented attack led to fierce criticism of the police, who have been accused of arriving late to the scene and failing to immediately arrest the perpetrators. Hong Kong residents came out in the subsequent days to build large-scale “Lennon Walls” – a colorful notice board with political statements, where they encourage more people to come out to march to the Yuen Long MTR station, the site of the attack.

Sunday’s attack left 45 people injured and came during a night of escalating violence that opened new fronts in Hong Kong’s widening crisis over an extradition bill that could see people from the territory sent to China for trial in Communist Party-controlled courts. (REUTERS)

(Production: Yuddy Cahya, Aleksander Solum)

HK closely monitors COVID situation in PH; to accept vax records starting Sept. 1

Marje Pelayo   •   August 31, 2021

The government of Hong Kong announced on Monday that it will accept vaccination records of inbound travelers coming from the Philippines effective September 1.

In a press release, the Hong Kong government said it has updated its list of places with recognized vaccination records adding the Philippines and Indonesia.

“Hong Kong residents who hold vaccination records affirmed by the relevant authorities of these two countries can board a flight for Hong Kong from Group A specified places,” it said.

As for foreign domestic helpers (FDHs), they need to go through standard health procedures upon arrival.

“Foreign domestic helpers holding vaccination records that have been affirmed by the relevant authorities of Indonesia or the Philippines must follow the quarantine arrangements as announced by the Government on August 26, including undergoing 21-day compulsory quarantine in a designated quarantine facility. As for other Hong Kong residents, they can undergo compulsory quarantine in regular designated quarantine hotels,” said Hong Kong’s Secretary of Labor and Welfare Dr Law Chi-kwong.

The updated policy applies to countries considered as ‘Group A’ places in Hong Kong’s travel list.

Hong Kong labels countries/territories with ‘high risks’ of COVID-19 infection as Group A places.

These are Bangladesh, Brazil, Cambodia, France, Greece, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Malaysia, Nepal, the Netherlands, Pakistan, the Philippines, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

Dr Law Chi-kwong added that while the Hong Kong government recognizes the high demand for foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) in the country, they have to impose strict measures because of the COVID-19 variants, particularly the Delta that has been spreading very rapidly.

“We have to ensure that we will not be allowing the virus to infiltrate into our community. Thus, we on one hand have to strike the balance between the demand of the families needing to employ FDHs and, on the other hand, we have to reduce the risk of having the virus coming into our community. Thus, we have to do it steadily and step by step,” he said.

Nevertheless, he said, in case the number of COVID positive cases spikes, they have existing mechanism to stop flights coming to Hong Kong.

Hong Kong has recently issued a two-week temporary ban on flights from Philippine Airlines after three of its passengers tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival at the airport.

“We have to monitor it closely,” Dr Law added.

“It depends on the progress, the risk we are facing and the whole situation at these places of origin for FDHs. You would probably be aware that in the Philippines, the number of cases has been increasing very rapidly recently. So, we have to basically monitor the situation day after day,” he said.

Hong Kong imposes two-week ban on PAL flights

Marje Pelayo   •   August 31, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Hong Kong government has imposed a temporary ban on flights from Philippine Airlines (PAL) until September 11 after three of its passengers tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival to the territory.

PAL confirmed the suspension in a statement adding that passenger flights from Hong Kong to Manila will remain operational during the said period.

“Philippine Airlines passenger flights from Hong Kong to Manila continue to operate every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, according to our planned schedules. In the other direction, while PAL will not be able to carry passengers from Manila to Hong Kong up to Sept. 11 to comply with the restriction, we will continue to operate all-cargo flights into Hong Kong,” the airline said.

PAL stressed that it is consistently complying with industry protocols both in the Philippines and abroad as it considers the health and safety of passengers its top priority.

“Please note that all our three passengers (2 Filipinos and 1 Chinese national) presented negative Covid-19 test results when they checked in for their PR300 flights,” it said.

On Sunday (August 29), the Hong Kong government reported the detection of COVID-19 positive travelers from PAL flight PR300 during the arrival testing which prompted the two-week ban on PAL flights.

“Separately, as two passenger flights arrived in Hong Kong on August 27, namely PR300 operated by Philippine Airlines arriving from Manila, the Philippines to Hong Kong, and TK083 operated by Turkish Airlines arriving from Istanbul, Turkey to Hong Kong, each had three passengers confirmed to have COVID-19 by arrival testing,” Hong Kong’s Center for Health Protection said in a press release.

“[This] invoked the Prevention and Control of Disease (Regulation of Cross-boundary Conveyances and Travellers) Regulation (Cap. 599H) to prohibit the landing of passenger flights from Manila and Istanbul respectively operated by the above airlines in Hong Kong from August 29 to September 11,” it added.

PAL said all passengers affected by the ban may rebook, refund or convert their tickets into a travel voucher with rebooking and refund service fees waived.

DFA seeks HK recognition of PH vaccination cards

Marje Pelayo   •   August 11, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Wednesday (August 11) assured that the Philippine Consulate General in Hong Kong is currently ironing things out regarding the issue of unaccepted vaccination cards of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) returning to the territory.

On August 9, the Hong Kong government lifted its travel ban against the Philippines, opening opportunities for thousands of Filipino household service workers to travel to Hong Kong.

They just need to present a negative RT-PCR result and a proof of vaccination.

“Wala naman silang pine-prefer na brand. Ang kailangan lang nila kasi iyong documents from the Philippines na verifiable pero based on IATF resolution meron yatang agency,” noted Labor Attache Melchor Dizon of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Hong Kong.

However, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. in a tweet said OFWs are being rejected because the Hong Kong immigration does not recognize the vaccination card from the Philippines.

“Our vaccination cards are not accepted in Hong Kong because they are not connected to a single source. Poor OFWs going to their jobs in Hong Kong even if jabbed,” Locsin said.

In response to the Secretary, DFA Spokesperson Assistant Secretary Ed Meñez said the Philippine Consulate General’s Office is already working on ways to provide OFWs with internationally-recognized vaccination cards.

“Kasalukuyang nag-mimeeting ang mga ahensya tungkol sa issue na ito. Ang masasabi lang ngayon ay inaayos ng konsulado natin sa [Hong Kong] na magkaroon ng recognition ng BOQ international vaccination certificate for COVID-19 para maka-biyahe ang mga Filipino papuntang [Hong Kong],” he said in a statement.

In another tweet, Locsin said he is expecting the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to settle the problem.

“Honasan’s DICT will get the job done right. I have known this guy for a long time, not in the Biblical sense; we fought each other as friends,” Locsin stressed.

Currently, there are about 220,000 OFWs in Hong Kong, half of the number are already vaccinated, the POLO – Hong Kong reported. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)


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