Malacañang to Filipinos: Avoid travelling to Hong Kong for now

Marje Pelayo   •   August 14, 2019   •   365

A demonstrator was injured during the protest against Hong Kong-China extradition Law on July 27, 2019. (Photoville International)

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang has advised Filipinos to refrain from travelling to Hong Kong for now as the ongoing demonstrations have crippled operations in the international airport there.

“Ang travel ban siguro with respect kung gusto mo pumunta sa (The travel ban perhaps is with respect to your choice to travel to Hong Kong.) This is not the right time to go there kasi ang flight mo biglang naka-cancel, (as your flight might suddenly get cancelled,)” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said during a press briefing Tuesday (August 13).

Thousands of protesters swarmed Hong Kong International Airport’s main terminal on Monday (August 12) which led to cancellations of hundreds of outbound and inbound flights to and from the autonomous territory.

“Avoid muna going there, that’s the advice (because) you’re not sure you’re going to reach Hong Kong in the first place,” Panelo added.

When asked about a proposed ban on deployment of workers to Hong Kong, the Palace spokesperson said there is no need to declare such prohibition citing Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III since the protest movements as limited only to specific areas in Hong Kong.

“Nagkakagulo sa airport. Limited naman ang gulo sa airport, (The chaos is in the airport and it’s limited only within the airport,)” he said.

On Tuesday, Hong Kong’s Airport Authority said in a statement that terminal operations at the airport “have been seriously disrupted, and all check-in processes have now been suspended.”

“Members of the public are advised not to come to the airport. All passengers are advised to leave the terminal buildings as soon as possible,” the statement said.

Palace says Sanchez not eligible for release under good conduct law

Robie de Guzman   •   August 23, 2019

Former Calauan, Laguna Mayor Antonio Sanchez | Courtesy: PTV

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang said on Friday that former Calauan, Laguna Mayor Antonio Sanchez is not eligible for early release from prison under the new law increasing the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) given to inmates.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said that Sanchez, who was convicted of a heinous crime, is not entitled to benefit from the Republic Act 10592 which shortens a prisoner’s jail term for good behavior.

“Mr. Sanchez, under republic act number 10592 is not eligible so the President as the chief enforcer of the law have to follow the law,” Panelo said.

In an earlier statement, Malacañang supported Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra in stressing that the law excludes “recidivists, habitual delinquents, escapees and persons charged with heinous crimes” from the benefit of its coverage.

Sanchez has been in jail for over 25 years since he was convicted for the rape and murder of student Eileen Sarmenta and the murder of her friend, Allan Gomez in 1995.

Panelo was the defense lawyer of Sanchez when he was sentenced to seven terms of reclusion perpetua.

The former mayor was reported earlier to be among the 11,000 persons deprived of who might soon be freed due to a 2013 law that increased the GCTA given to inmates and a Supreme court ruling last June applying this law retroactively.

The news has sparked outrage among the public.

Sanchez’s eligibility under the new GCTA rule was also questioned by lawmakers and other sectors due to allegations of possession of illegal drugs after a prison guard found a packet of shabu and marijuana in his jail cell. An air condition unit and a television set were also seized from his cell, which are violation of prison rules.

The report on Sanchez’s possible release also “enraged” President Rodrigo Duterte, according to his former aide and now Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go.

“Nung nag-usap kami ng Pangulo talagang nagalit din siya, at sinabi niya di rin siya sang-ayon at may mga sinite din siya na batas na minimum, in short ayaw din nya, galit po sya,” Go said in a radio interview when asked about the president’s reaction.

The Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) earlier said Sanchez may be disqualified from availing the provisions of the good conduct time allowance law for his alleged violations of prison rules.

The BuCor also assured to carefully and cautiously review the GCTA of persons who were convicted of high-profile, heinous crimes or grave crimes that show extreme moral depravity. (RRD with details from correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Thousands of Hong Kong students turn out to protest extradition bill

Robie de Guzman   •   August 23, 2019

Hong Kong, China (AUGUST 27, 2019). Various secondary school students seated at protest at Edinburgh Place| Courtesy: Reuters

Thousands of secondary school students gathered at Edinburgh Place in Hong Kong on Thursday (August 22) to call for political reforms amid turmoil and chaos in the city.

Many of the students said they joined the rally as the government has not answered any of the protesters’ five demands, while others, who are in their senior years, praised the high-school students for ‘sacrificing’ their summer holiday to come out on Thursday.

Hong Kong has been gripped by anti-government protests in recent weeks, with China accusing Britain and other Western countries of meddling in its affairs.

The unrest has been fuelled by broader worries about the erosion of freedoms guaranteed under the “one country, two systems” formula adopted after 1997 but not enjoyed on the Chinese mainland, including an independent judiciary and the right to protest. (Reuters)

(Production: Stefica Nicol Bikes, Juarawee Kittisilpa)

China detains employee of British consulate in Hong Kong

Robie de Guzman   •   August 21, 2019

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Geng Shuang confirming detention of Chinese national working at Britain’s Hong Kong consulate, Simon Cheng | Courtesy: Reuters

A Chinese national working at Britain’s Hong Kong consulate has been detained in China’s border city of Shenzhen for violating the law, the Chinese foreign ministry said on Wednesday (August 21), likely worsening already strained ties between Beijing and London.

Simon Cheng did not return to work on Aug. 9 after visiting the neighbouring mainland city of Shenzhen the previous day, Hong Kong news website HK01 reported.

Cheng’s family confirmed his disappearance in a Facebook post on Tuesday (August 20) night, saying he travelled from Hong Kong to Shenzhen on the morning of Aug. 8 for a business trip.

Speaking at a daily news briefing in Beijing, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Cheng had been detained for 15 days by Shenzhen police for violating public security management regulations, though he gave no details.

“He is not a UK citizen. In other words that means he’s Chinese, so it’s entirely an internal matter for China,” Geng said.

“We’ve made stern representations to Britain for the series of comments and actions they’ve made on Hong Kong,” he added.

Britain has said it is “extremely concerned” by reports that the staff member at the consulate in its former colony had been detained.

Hong Kong has been gripped by anti-government protests in recent weeks, with Beijing accusing Britain and other Western countries of meddling in its affairs. (Reuters)

(Production: Martin Pollard)

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