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Pinoy asylum-seekers up 5% from last quarter

21 November 2016

The Immigration Tower, where asylum applications are processed.

By Vir B. Lumicao

There has been a substantial increase in the number of Filipino asylum-seekers in Hong Kong since July this year, the latest statistics from the Immigration Department show.

But an official of a non-government organization attending to refugee cases in Hong Kong doubts the new arrivals’ reason for fleeing the Philippines.

“About Filipinos claiming torture using the war on drugs, my experience in the past is such claims are largely for economic reasons, not torture,” Danilo Reyes, deputy director of the Asian Human Rights Commission who is on study leave, said in reply to an emailed query by The SUN.

“They are abusing the system in Hong Kong that ought to protect those victims whose lives are genuinely at risk,” he added.

Reyes said he could not comment on the individual merits of the claims made by those who cited President Rodolfo Duterte’s anti-drug campaign as “I don’t have details on them.”

Immigration data on torture claims as of Sept 30 this year shows that the number of Filipino claimants had risen to 483 from 461 at the end of June, indicating 22 people had filed torture claims during the period, or an increase of 4.8%.

The statistics seem to corroborate reports that Filipino asylum-seekers arriving recently in Hong Kong are claiming as an excuse the bloody anti-drug campaign of Duterte.

Philippine police have reported that more than 3,000 drugs pushers and addicts had been killed in legitimate encounters and vigilante-style attacks since the campaign began, while human rights advocates claim the number could be much higher.

The Immigration Department says that as of Sept 30, there were a total of 10,815 outstanding torture claims from all nationalities, with male claimants numbering 7,737 or 151.3% more than the 3,078 female claimants.

The overall figure had dropped from 11,169 as of June 30, indicating that 354 applications had been dealt with by the department.

The 483 Filipinos were far outnumbered by the Vietnamese, who numbered 2,185; the Indians with 2,131, and the Pakistanis with 2,027.

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