Hong Kong lawmakers mull suspension of Filipinos’ visa-free entry

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In this file photo taken on August 23, 2010, Philippine policemen take position as they start their attack on a hijacked tourist bus in Manila. AFP FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Putting pressure on the Aquino administration, legislators in Hong Kong called for the suspension of the Filipinos’ visa-free entry to Hong Kong.

A non-binding motion filed by the country’s Legislative Council proposing the withdrawal of visa-free access for Filipino visitors in Hong Kong was set to be approved on Wednesday, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported.

It said their lawmakers want to “put pressure on the Philippine leadership and Manila city government to compensate families of eight Hongkongers killed by sacked policeman Rolando Mendoza, as well as injured.”

On August 23, 2010, disgruntled police officer Mendoza hijacked a bus with 22 Hong Kong tourists in front of Quirino Grandstand in Manila City.

Hong Kong lawmakers from different parties supported the motion despite a formal apology made by Manila Mayor Joseph Ejercito-Estrada to Hong Kong through Manila councilor Bernardo Ang, indicating that a deal on the Philippines’ compensation to hostage victims “was getting closer.”

Last October 23, Aquino reiterated that no national government apology would be given to Hong Kong saying “the act of one individual should not be construed as the act of the entire nation.”

HK lawmakers’ stand

Supported by Beijing-Loyalist parties and Pan-democrats, Regina Ip Lau Suk-Yee, former security chief of Hong Kong, will move the call to stop the visa-free privilege of Filipinos visiting Hong Kong.

In the report of South China Morning Post, Suk-Yee’s motion was an amendment to radical pan-democrat Albert Chan Wai-yip’s motion seeking sanctions on the Philippines.

Meanwhile, Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong chairman Tam Yiu-Chiang said he would not support the amendment by Democratic Party lawmaker Sin Chung-kai demanding the “Hong Kong government to stop buying Philippine products, halt negotiations on air routes and trade and urge the public to boycott Philippine goods.”

Tam disapproved Sin’s amendment since it “might infringe the existing trade agreements.”

While Tam won’t support the amendment, Federal Trade Union lawmaker Wong Kwok-kin said in the newspaper that he would support both amendments.

“Though the motion has no binding effect, it will exert pressure not only on the Hong Kong government but also the Philippines – as pan-democrats and the pro-establishment camp join forces on this issue,” Wong said.

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