Former Ombudsman Carpio Morales on Hong Kong trip: 'I was detained'

Vivienne Gulla, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 22 2019 03:02 AM | Updated as of May 22 2019 07:44 PM

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(UPDATED) Former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales tagged as “bullying” Hong Kong’s move to deny her immediate entry into the special administrative region of China.

Morales is convinced it was connected with the communication she and former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario filed before the International Criminal Court against Chinese President Xi Jinping.

They had alleged that Xi committed crimes against humanity for China’s aggressive activities in the West Philippine Sea.

“It occurred to me to consider that. In fact, before I went to Hong Kong, I was saying baka I’m leaving for Hong Kong, and baka hindi ako papasukin because of that thing. Some people said, hindi naman siguro, because they don’t like to show you that they are actually tailing you. Pero nangyari nga,” Morales told reporters upon arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Tuesday night.

“That was bullying. How do you call it if that’s not bullying? I think someone came up with the theory na shock and awe raw? Hindi naman ako nasho-shock. Hindi naman ako naa-awe. Nabubwisit lang,” she added.

The former Ombudsman feels she is being surveilled.

“My telephones are hacked. That’s why I’m already paranoid,” Morales admitted.

Her legal counsel had said Morales was denied entry to Hong Kong, because she was considered a “security threat”.

Despite the incident, the former Ombudsman does not regret filing a communication before the ICC against China, stressing that she will continue to be as vocal as she was.

'No explanation'

Morales flew to Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China, with her children and grandchildren for a family vacation Tuesday. But upon arrival at an airport in Hong Kong around noon, she was barred from entering the country, and was held in a room by Immigration authorities for almost four hours.

“I was detained… Pagdating ko, I was brought to a room na hindi naman ‘yung dapat para sa arriving visitors. I was interrogated. Mayroon silang tiningnan. After some time inilipat ako sa isang kwarto, ‘yun na pala ‘yung detention room nila,” Morales narrated.

Morales said they gave her no clear explanation for banning her entry, but she was told to take the 6pm flight back to Manila. The former Ombudsman sought the help of the Philippine Consulate.

“Ayaw raw nila even with the guarantee of the Consulate. Kailangan daw talagang bumalik ako. So I kept asking ano ba’ng reason? Bakit n’yo ako dine-detain? Bakit ayaw ninyo akong papasukin? Ang sabi nila, immigration reason daw,” Morales said.

She said she made her sign a document about her detention.

“When they asked me to sign the document, may mga blangko. One of them is ‘yung flight ko. Ayaw kong sign-an. Gusto ko i-fill up ninyo lahat ng entries,” she added.

While in detention, Morales said she was offered food and drinks, but she refused to take them.

“Naku, lalasunin pa ako dun,” she said.

Later, an airport official intervened and told Morales that she will be given reconsideration. She was eventually allowed to enter Hong Kong, but decided to push through with the flight back to Manila.

“Of course after what happened? Ganunin nila ako,” Morales said.

“I was disappointed, not because I was not allowed entry, but because I was deprived of the opportunity to see my grandchildren enjoy their vacation in Hong Kong,” she added.

The Philippines may not question the action taken by Chinese immigration officials against Morales, according too Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra. He explained, countries have the “exclusive and sovereign prerogative” to refuse the entry of a foreigner.

Malacanang also said it defers to the immigration laws and rules of other countries.

Sought for comment regarding the government’s position on the issue, Morales said, “Opinion nila yun. Read between the lines”.