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Ex-Philippine Ombudsman barred from entering HK

22 May 2019

former Ombudsman, Conchita Carpio-Morales

By The SUN

The Philippines’ former Ombudsman, Conchita Carpio-Morales, returned to Manila late tonight, May 21, after being initially barred from entering Hong Kong earlier in the day with no explanation being given by Immigration officers.

Morales, along with former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, filed a case in March against Chinese President Xi Jinping before the International Criminal Court over China’s perceived maritime violations in the West Philippine Sea.
But in a tweet, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin said all that the airport officers said was “This is an instruction.”

After about three hours of being held in an isolation room, the 78-year-old official, who also served as Supreme Court justice, was reportedly allowed to enter Hong Kong, but she declined, and opted to take a 6pm flight back to Manila.
Her daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren who were not stopped from entering Hong Kong, chose to fly back with her. Their plane arrived in Manila at 9:20pm, and they were met at the airport by Del Rosario and Morales’ lawyer Anne Marie Corominas.

That was exactly nine hours since Morales and her family arrived in Hong Kong aboard a Philippine Airlines flight.
Shortly after Morales was separated from her family and put in a detention room, Corominas released a statement to Philippine media decrying the incident. She asked, "How is a 78-year old former anti-corruption Ombudswoman a security threat in HK-China?"

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At about 3pm, the Philippine Consulate in Hong Kong was alerted about the problem, and Consul Paul Saret was dispatched to the airport to assist Morales.
According to Locsin, Saret asked “if he could sponsor or guarantee her stay but HK refused.”
Locsin further said the ATN (assistance to nationals) head brought Morales food because “she refuse (sic) to eat the food offered by airport officials,” before derisively adding “CLASS! I can see her sneer.”

At about 5pm, Deputy Consul General Germinia Aguilar-Usudan said in an interview that Morales had already checked in her luggage and was on her way to a restaurant to eat before taking her flight back home.

“We will be inquiring officially to the immigration office why she was not allowed immediate entry to Hong Kong," said Usudan, who is acting head of post in the absence of Consul General Antonio Morales.

A statement later issued by Presidential Spokesman Salvador S. Panelo said Morales was refused entry to Hong Kong “and was subject to deportation as she is considered a ‘security risk’ by Chinese immigration authorities.

The statement added, “We will defer to the immigration laws and rules of other countries much as we expect foreign nations to respect our country's internal rules”.

While Morales and her family were assisted by the DFA through the Consulate, Panelo said “the same government assistance shall be given to each and every Filipino in distress abroad, and this is regardless of political persuasion or affinity.”

Asked to comment, Del Rosario said what happened to Carpio-Morales was similar to how China has been bullying the Philippines in places where the two countries have overlapping claims.

"One of the reasons we had filed our case in the ICC is to be able to push back against the bullying and harassment that we have been encountering from our goliath of a neighbor," he said.

"Today, with the holding of Former Ombudswoman Conchita Carpio-Carpio-Morales by immigration authorities in Hong Kong as a security risk presumably due to the ICC case that we had filed, we are experiencing more of the same," he said. – with reports from Manila

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