De Lima calls Carpio-Morales’ ordeal in HK a national issue

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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has denounced the unjust treatment of former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales by the Hong Kong immigration officials who barred her from entering the country last May 21 for supposedly being a “security threat.”

De Lima, a former justice secretary, said the Duterte administration should not relegate the controversial incident to a personal affront to which the government should have no say and instead treat it as a national issue.

“Like many others, I am appalled and disgusted upon learning of the events that transpired at the Hong Kong airport concerning the denial of entry of former SC Justice and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales,” she said in her recent Dispatch from Crame No. 521.

“It should instead be considered by our government as a signal that the Del Rosario-Morales complaint vs. Chinese President Xi Jinping over ‘crimes against humanity’ is being treated as a serious matter, and it should thus do the same. It should treat this controversial incident as nothing less than a national issue,” she added.

Morales, along with former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, led the filing of a communication before the International Criminal Court against Chinese President Xi Jinping and other Chinese officials for crimes against humanity committed in the disputed South China Sea last March 15 – or two days before the Philippines’ unilateral withdrawal from the international tribunal.

Based on media reports, Morales, who planned to take a vacation in Hong Kong with her family, were stopped by immigration authorities, held in a room at Hong Kong’s airport for four hours, and ordered to take a flight back to Manila last May 21.

Morales was reportedly told by immigration officials that “there was a mistake” and that she could proceed with her trip to Hong Kong, but the former Ombudsman and her family had already decided to return home because of the incident.

“It is a testament to Ombudsman Morales’ fortitude that the ordeal caused her nothing more than an annoyance, choosing to leave voluntarily even after she was later allowed entry,” De Lima said.

The lady Senator from Bicol pointed out that the airport incident is another proof that authoritarian regimes are as vindictive and unreasonable as they can be, especially when treating critics, dissenters and other perceived enemies.

“Ombudsman Morales spoke up and stood for the Philippines, and was in turn considered a risk, held at immigration, and considered for deportation,” she said.

“Meanwhile, in the Philippines – our corals are being destroyed, our clams are being stolen, our jobs are being taken, our marine territory is being wrongfully claimed, but still with open arms and without qualms, we invite and welcome China, and even enter questionable loans with it,” she added. Amid the Philippines’ rightful claim over the West Philippines Sea and the China’s continued aggression in the disputed islands, Mr. Duterte continues to betray the country and its victory by maintaining its policy of kowtowing to China.

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