Ex-Ombudsman Morales, complainant vs. Xi Jinping, held at Hong Kong airportBy MARISSE PANALIGAN,MICHAELA DEL CALLAR,GMA News
Former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has been held by immigration authorities at the airport in Hong Kong, her lawyer told GMA News Online on Tuesday afternoon.
Anne Marie Corominas, Morales' legal counsel, said the former official called her from Hong Kong to inform her of the situation.
"Why would the HK Chinese detain a 78-year-old former anti-corruption Ombudswoman as a security threat in HK-China?" Corominas said.
Morales and former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario recently filed a complaint against Chinese President Xi Jinping before the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
“She has committed no crime. She’s only exercised her democratic rights as a Filipino citizen!” Corominas said.
Sources from the Department of Foreign Affairs said the retired Supreme Court associate justice was held because of "immigration reasons."
Morales, according to sources, arrived in Hong Kong past 11 a.m. with her husband, son, daughter in law and two grandchildren.
She was separated from her family by Hong Kong's immigration authorities and was asked to take Philippine Airlines' 6 p.m. flight back to Manila.
Her family, sources added, decided to join her.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Boy Locsin said Hong Kong authorities eventually allowed Morales to enter the territory hours after she was held. Morales and her family, however, opted to return to the Philippines.
"HK port authorities have allowed her in but she and her family have chosen to stay in airport with DFA people and take 6 o'clock flight back to Manila," Locsin said on Twitter in response to a query on Morales' plight.
‘Wheelchair in a detention room’
In a series of tweets, Locsin said immigration officials claimed they were under instructions to hold Morales.
He said a Fillipino consul asked if he could guarantee Morales' stay in the territory "but HK refused."
"While awaiting her flight back (later joined by her companions), we sent our ATN [assistance to nationals] officer to keep her company and bring her food because she refuse to eat the food offered by airport officials," Locsin said, adding in jest that he almost see her sneer.
"She's in high spirits and in a wheelchair in a detention room at the airport. Later HK authorities okayed her entry but she and her family had already decided to go back to Manila on the 6 pm PAL flight," he added.
‘Only China would know why’
Only China would know why it barred Morales from entering Hong Kong, presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said on Tuesday afternoon.
Panelo added that the Department of Foreign Affairs was already assisting Morales and her family.
“Only the Chinese government knows who are security risk. We will be incompetent to determine that,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a text message to GMA News Online.
Asked if the Hong Kong immigration’s move was a retaliation to Morales’ legal action against the Chinese government in relation to the maritime dispute, Panelo said: “No idea. I cannot speculate.”
Morales' co-complainant before the International Criminal Court against Xi accused the Chinese government of more "bullying and harassment."
Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario made the remark hours after immigration authorities held Morales at the Hong Kong airport.
"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," Del Rosario said in a statement.
"Today, with the holding of former Ombudswoman Conchita 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 added.
Del Rosario thanked the DFA for its efforts in helping Morales.
Crimes against humanity
Del Rosario and Morales in March sued Xi and other Chinese officials for allegedly committing crimes against humanity in connection with China's activities to gain control over most of the South China Sea.
They filed the case before the ICC on March 15 or two days before the Philippines' exit from the tribunal.
Under its rules, the court may still act on cases related to the Philippines while the Philippines was a member from November 1, 2011 until March 17.
“The situation is both unique and relevant because it presents one of the most massive, near permanent and devastating destruction of the environment in humanity’s history,” Del Rosario said in a statement then.
“It adversely affects and injures not only myriad groups of vulnerable fishermen, including 320,000 Filipino fishermen, but also present and future generations of people across nations,” it added. —NB, GMA News