HK lawmakers vote to scrap visa-free access to Pinoys

Posted at 11/09/2013 2:05 AM | Updated as of 11/09/2013 6:58 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Hong Kong lawmakers voted to pass a non-binding motion by People Power’s Albert Chan Wai-yip calling on the government to impose sanctions on the Philippines in connection with the 2010 Manila hostage killings, the South China Morning Post reported yesterday.

The legislature also voted by 41 to three, with seven abstentions, in favor of former security chief Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee’s amendment calling for the visa-free access for Filipino citizens to be scrapped.

A further amendment by Chan’s partymate Raymond Chan Chi-chuen calling for restrictions on Filipino maids was withdrawn after Ip’s resolution was passed.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying earlier this week warned that he would impose sanctions if Manila failed to meet the demands of the families of the eight Hong Kong citizens killed by gunman Rolando Mendoza and the seven people injured in the bus siege in a botched rescue attempt.

The demands include an apology by President Aquino, compensation to the families, and the adoption of corrective safety measures by the Philippine government.

Communication lines open

Malacañang said the government would keep communication lines open with Hong Kong as it urged everyone to remain calm amid the lawmakers’ vote to impose economic sanctions on the Philippines.

“Our position remains the same: both sides are working quietly to address these concerns and reach a mutually satisfactory conclusion,” Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma said in a press briefing yesterday.

Coloma said it should not follow that with a “mutually satisfactory conclusion,” Manila would also bar Hong Kong tourists from entering the country without a visa.

He urged overseas Filipino workers in Hong Kong not to be disturbed because the government would help them, given the situation.

“Their interest and welfare are not forgotten and we will continue to do what is right to protect their interests,” Coloma said.

Asked if the Palace was dismayed with the sanctions against Manila for refusing to apologize, Coloma said the “continued pursuit of this objective, which is to achieve the solution being mutually worked upon,” was the main concern.

“We are very focused and we are determined (to) achieve this,” Coloma said. – Aurea Calica