MANILA, Philippines – The government on Tuesday expressed disappointment over the decision of Hong Kong authorities to keep the Philippines on the blacklist for Hong Kong tourists, putting the country at par with Syria.
Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte issued the following statement from Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez:
“We are obviously disappointed over this decision as the Filipino people through their government (including the DOT, Department of Foreign Affairs and the City of Manila) have done all that is reasonably possible (the latest being the completion of the National Crisis Management Core Manual) to restore the trust and confidence of the government of Hong Kong SAR in keeping with the constant friendship between our two peoples. Be that as it may, we will persevere in our effort to restore relations.”
The Philippines has been on the Hong Kong blacklist since 2010 after the Manila hostage crisis on August 24, 2010 that killed 8 HK tourists.
An investigation committee later recommended administrative or criminal charges against 15 individuals and organizations including Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, then-DILG Undersecretary Rico Puno, former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, then-Deputy Ombudsman Emilio Gonzales III, several police officials, two broadcasters and 3 TV networks.
An article on the Asian Sentinel, meanwhile, said Hong Kong’s decision might have been influenced by officials trying to be patriotic in response to the Philippines’ resistance to China’s claim to the whole South China Sea. -- With a report from Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News