Morales on getting held at Hong Kong airport: ‘It was bullying’

Robie de Guzman   •   May 22, 2019   •   3194

Former Philippine Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales upon her arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport after she was barred from entering Hong Kong on May 21, 2019.

MANILA, Philippines – Former Philippine Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales has called her temporary “detention” at the Hong Kong International Airport a form of bullying, after immigration officials barred her from entering the country for a few hours on Tuesday afternoon.

“Yes, that was bullying. How do you call it if that’s not bullying? I think someone came up with the theory that shocked and awe daw. Hindi naman ako nasho-shock; hindi naman ako naa-awe. Nabubwisit lang,” Morales told reporters upon her arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) at past 10 p.m. Tuesday.

Morales, along with her family, arrived in Hong Kong airport at 12:20 p.m. for a vacation. Her husband, son, daughter-in-law and her grandchildren were allowed entry but Morales was stopped by immigration officials.

Philippine Deputy Consul General Germinia Aguilar-Usudan said the Hong Kong Immigration office did not provide the exact reason why Morales was barred entry.

“For the reason why she was not allowed immediate entry to Hong Kong, we were not given any reason by the immigration office,” she told UNTV News and Rescue in an interview.

READ: Ex-Ombudsman Morales temporarily held at HK airport

According to Morales, Hong Kong authorities told her she was being detained for “immigration reasons,” but refused to explain the grounds.

“They did not tell me anything about it. I was insisting they give me the ground. They said nothing,” she said.

Morales said that during her brief detention, she was asked by Hong Kong Immigration officials to sign a document but she refused to do so because parts of it were blanks.

“I read it and then it said ‘detention,’ and of course, the detention I was thinking of was behind bars,” she added.

With the help of Philippine Consulate officials, the former Ombudsman was eventually allowed entry at around 3 p.m. but she decided to just take the flight back to the Philippines.

“I was disappointed not because I was not allowed entry but because I was deprived of the opportunity to see my grandchildren enjoy their vacation in Hong Kong,” she said.

In March, Morales along with former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, filed a complaint of crimes against humanity against Chinese President Xi Jinping at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for purportedly damaging the resources at the disputed territory in West Philippine Sea through China’s ongoing reclamation activities in the area.

Morales said the incident at Hong Kong airport on Tuesday afternoon has further strengthened her resolve to proceed with the complaint she filed before the ICC.

Although she has yet to determine her next steps, Morales has vowed to remain resolute at speaking against Chinese policies despite the friendlier stance that the current administration has taken towards China. (with details from Asher Cadapan Jr.)

DFA finalizes repatriation for 11 stranded Filipino seafarers onboard Ocean Star 86

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 25, 2020

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is finalizing the repatriation of the remaining 11 Filipino seafarers stranded in Chinese waters onboard Ocean Star 86 since March 24.

The DFA and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) are already coordinating with the Philippine Embassy in China. OWWA said the seafarers will be able to return home by next week.

“Mayroon na po napipintong repatriation either this coming week or first week of October ng ating mga mahal na stranded seafarers sa China (Our stranded seafarers in China will be repatriated either this coming week or first week of October). We are now providing assistance to the seafarers,” according to OWWA administrator Hans Leo Cacdac.

Based on the information received by OWWA, the Ocean Star 86 is docked in the mainland and the Philippine Embassy in China has been providing assistance to the seafarers. AAC (with reports from Joan Nano)

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Hong Kong to take off masks in public, reopen cinemas starting August 28

Marje Pelayo   •   August 26, 2020

Starting August 28, the government of Hong Kong will ease several social distancing measures in relation to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), according to Secretary for Food & Health, Professor Sophia Chan.

“Under the new normal, it is almost not possible for us to wait until there are no more local cases before relaxing the social distancing measures,” the official said in a media briefing on Tuesday (August 25).

Chan said unless there are drastic changes to the epidemic situation, the government would issue new directions before Friday specifically the following:

(1) Extend the dine-in services allowed to 9 pm; 

(2) Allow re-opening of scheduled premises including cinemas, beauty parlours and also some outdoor sports premises for activities involving little physical contact; and 

(3) Allow people not to wear masks in country parks and while doing exercise.

Prof. Chan reminded the public, however, that while the number of daily new cases has been gradually declining, the epidemic situation still has not completely stabilized.

Thus, she advised Hong Kong nationals not to be complacent and maintain good personal and environmental hygiene.

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Researchers detected first COVID-19 reinfection in Hong Kong

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 25, 2020

Several experts have confirmed the first case of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) reinfection in Hong Kong.

Based on the report, the 33-year-old patient got infected with COVID-19 in Hong Kong and recovered last April. However, he again tested positive for the virus mid-August after traveling to Spain and the United Kingdom.

Experts say he got infected with two different strains of the virus.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said the exact immune response time of a recovered COVID-19 patient is yet to be determined.

“What we are learning about infection is that people do develop an immune response and what is not completely clear yet is how strong that immune response is and for how long that immune response lasts,” according to WHO Health Emergencies Program Technical Lead Maria Van Kerhove.

However, the Department of Health (DOH) said they are still reviewing the reinfection situation.

Tinitignan po natin at minamapa natin ang (We’re still looking into and mapping out the) international experiences, so that we can have appropriate evidence and we can give you accurate information,” DOH Spokesperson Usec. Maria Rosario Vergeire said.

The DOH is also reviewing the cases of Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año and Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, and that of Dr. Karen Senen who recently succumbed to COVID-19.

The Health Department reiterates the importance of following minimum health standards to prevent the spread of the virus. -AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

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