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Filipino fined $1k for carrying tear gas, baton in luggage

31 May 2018

By Merly T
File photo of tear gas canisters

A Filipino who was on a layover in Hong Kong ended up being detained after he was found to have a tear gas canister, an extendable baton, a flashlight and a pair of handcuffs in the luggage he was carrying for his onward flight to London on May 13.

According to Rafael Revilla Flogo, a 30-year-old security guard from Marinduque, he brought the said items at the request of his employer in Britain who had recruited him to work in an island off London that he was developing.

Flogo said he did not know that the items are not allowed to be brought into Hong Kong.

After paying a fine of $1,000, Flogo was released, and he flew on to London on May 26. He was given shelter by a group of overseas Filipino workers in Hong Kong while waiting for his employer to buy him a new ticket.

Chek Lap Kok Airport

He said he was ordered by the police to return to Hong Kong in November to attend a seminar on the law forbidding the transport of explosive materials into the city. If he fails to attend the seminar, he will not be allowed to enter Hong Kong again.

According to Flogo, who is married with two children, he worked for seven years as a security guard in Taguig City. He was subsequently recruited by an employment agency to work in the island of Thurks in Britain, which was being developed by a Canadian.
Sample of an extendable baton

He was supposed to fly to Britain with two other recruits late on May 12 but his companions were not able to book the same flight.

Before leaving Manila, he said his employer asked if he could buy the tear gas and other items, and bring them to Britain in his luggage. Flogo said he asked his former boss at the security firm if he could do this, and he was assured it was alright.

Early on May 13, as he was making his way to the gate for his connecting flight, he said he heard his name being called over the airport’s public address system. It turned out security personnel had found the banned items in his luggage and wanted to question him.

He was arrested at the airport and questioned for 12 hours before being charged with possession of arms without a licence. Fortunately, he was allowed to make a phone call to his employer in Britain so he was able to relay his predicament.

Police took him to the West Kowloon magistracy early on May 14 where he pleaded guilty to the charge of carrying the banned items, then paid the $1,000 fine.

Flogo was told Hong Kong has very strict laws against bringing in arms, ammunition and exlosives, including the items found in his possession. The prohibition also extemds to bullets, whether live or empty, and arnis sticks or chako.

Flogo stayed with a group of kindly Ilongga OFWs for about a week while his employer booked his onward flight.

He was warned by police that should his colleagues try to bring in the same prohibited items from Manila they would surely be arrested and jailed.

Flogo has asked that the warning be relayed to other Filipinos, now well aware that not knowing about Hong Kong’s laws could not be used as an excuse for avoiding legal liability.

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