PH Consulate in Hong Kong advises Pinoys to stay away from protests

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 13, 2019   •   2352

Courtesy : Reuters

The Philippine Consulate has advised Filipinos in Hong Kong to stay away from the on-going protests against the proposed extradition law.

READ: Hong Kong lawmakers double down on extradition bill following massive protest

In a statement, the Philippine Consulate in Hong Kong said the protests are mainly outside the government central offices, particularly the Legislative Complex, in Admiralty and in Tamar Park.

“Should our nationals find themselves among the crowds of protesters, they should exercise extreme caution and vigilance in order to keep themselves safe from any isolated act of violence that might occur,” the statement reads.

The Consulate also advises Filipinos to be updated with the current security situation.

Meanwhile, the Consulate will continue to “monitor the situation and provide public advisories from time to time as necessary.”

Hong Kong leader says ‘one country, two systems’ can continue after 2047

UNTV News   •   January 16, 2020

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam speaks at press conference epa08109218 Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam attends a press conference in Hong Kong, China, 07 January 2020. According to media reports, Lam said she hoped to work closely with Luo Huining, China’s newly appointed top local official. EPA-EFE/JEROME FAVRE

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam on Thursday said the “one country, two systems” arrangement could continue after the autonomous city’s complete transfer to Chinese sovereignty in 2047 if loyalty to Beijing is maintained.

“As long as we uphold, fully understand and implement the ‘one country, two systems’ principle, there are adequate reasons to believe that the arrangement would move ahead smoothly and there would be no change after 2047,” Lam told the Legislative Council.

She said her topmost priority was to put an end to the violence and destruction that have affected the local economy and Hong Kong’s reputation as a safe and law-abiding business hub with an independent judiciary.

Lam expressed concern about the possible closure of companies and dismissal of employees after the Lunar New Year holiday (which starts Jan. 25) but expressed hope for economic recovery if social order was restored in the crisis-ridden city.

She said she intended to announce next month the establishment of a committee to investigate the reasons behind the riots in Hong Kong.

The “Independent Review Committee” would be composed of social leaders, experts, and academics, who will carry out a study to analyze the root causes of problems in Hong Kong.

Lam described the creation of such a committee as an “important step” towards reconciliation after seven months of protests, although she added that the administration was having difficulty finding people to join the proposed panel.

Tensions returned to parliament on Thursday after 13 pro-democracy legislators were ordered to leave the meeting for repeatedly interrupting the session, holding banners and chanting slogans such as “five demands, not one less” and “Carrie Lam step down”.

The “five demands” include direct universal suffrage, freeing of almost 6,000 detainees, the protests not to be considered unrest and an independent investigation into alleged police brutality.

The city administration has already withdrawn a controversial extradition bill that was part of the demand of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

Critics of the plan to establish a review committee say that the protesters have already made it very clear what drives their continued campaign against the government and that only an independent investigation of police brutality would be considered satisfactory. EFE-EPA

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Cimatu heads to the Middle East as forced evacuation of OFWs begins

Marje Pelayo   •   January 8, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu is leaving for the Middle East on Thursday (January 9) to oversee the immediate repatriation of Filipinos there amid the escalating tension between the United States and Iran that is affecting all other Gulf states.

President Rodrigo Duterte reinstated Cimatu as the Philippine Special Envoy to the Middle East, his position under the Arroyo administration, being the most experienced when it comes to conflicts in the Gulf region.

In response to his recommendation, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has raised crisis alert level 4 in Iraq which orders mandatory repatriation of all Filipinos living and working there.

Iraq holds a number of US military bases which are potential targets by Iranian retaliation following the death of Iran’s top military general Qassem Soleimani in an airstrike launched by the US.

“Pipilitin namin lalo na sa Iraq. Nagawa na namin ito kasi ayaw talaga nilang umalis. Hanggang sa ma-convince namin, (We will force them especially those in Iraq. We did this in the past because some Filipinos really refused to leave. (We will force them) until they are convinced,)” Cimatu said.

“(They assume, things are still okay.) They don’t know yet. This is a forced evacuation. We have to forced them really,” he added.

In a press briefing Wednesday (January 8), Cimatu confirmed that a total of 1,592 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) volunteered for repatriation and are set to leave Iraq as soon as they are cleared to go.

They will be moved out of Baghdad to Jordan and from there, they will be transferred to Dubai where they can board their flights to the Philippines.

Cimatu is confident that the process of repatriation will succeed for the safe evacuation of Filipinos, especially those who will move by land.

They will make sure to put up Philippine flags for identification.

Cimatu said Dubai will be repatriation’s central logistic base since there are direct flights from Dubai to the Philippines.

From the Philippines, Cimatu will fly to Doha, Qatar before he attempts entry to Iraq to facilitate the evacuation of Filipinos there.

One concern, Cimatu said, is the situation of Filipinos who are married to Iranian nationals.

Cimatu said they are ready to assist Philippine passport holders but their Iranian spouses may only leave if their government allows them to.

The Philippines also has an existing ban of workers to Lebanon and repatriation has been ongoing since the start of the civil unrest there.

Secretary Cimatu assured that all Philippine posts in different gulf states have contingency plans in place in case alert level 4 is raised in their areas of jurisdiction. MNP (with details from Rey Pelayo)

Filipinos in US-ally Saudi Arabia cautioned to exercise vigilance, coordinate with authorities

Marje Pelayo   •   January 8, 2020

A general view shows the Royal Hotel Clock Tower located near the Haram Sharif mosque during sunset. EPA/ ALAA BADARNEH

MIDDLE EAST – Philippine officials in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and Iraq are calling on Filipinos there to heed their advisory and exercise vigilance amid the rising tension between the United States and Iran which will most likely affect the rest of the countries in the Middle East.

In an advisory, the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh cautioned the Filipino communities in KSA against potential security threats, thus Embassy officials advised Filipinos to observe security measures and protocols established by the Saudi government, and abide by the laws, rules, and regulations of the Kingdom.

Meanwhile, the Embassy assures Filipinos that procedures for potential evacuation and repatriation are in place should they be affected or displaced by the impending hostilities.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been a long-time ally of the United States since the establishment of their full diplomatic relations in 1933.

Reports said regional activities by the slain Iranian General Qasem Soleimani frequently targeted Saudi Arabia and its allies. 

Based on records of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the KSA is the second country in the world that hosts the most number of Filipinos, nearly a thousand less than one million in the agency’s 2014 data.

For security-related incidents, information on developing security situations on the ground, and requests for assistance, Filipinos in the Kingdom may contact the following:

A. Assistance-to-Nationals Section (ANS) – Philippine Embassy in Riyadh
1. Landline Number – 011-480-1918
2. Hotline Number – 056 989 3301
3.E-mail Address – assistance@riyadhpe.com

B. Assistance-to-Nationals Section (ANS) – Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah
1. Hotline Numbers – 055 219 613 / 055 219 614
2. E-mail Address – ans@pcgjeddah.org

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