HK to scrap visa-free access for Filipinos?
MANILA, Philippines – According to a South China Morning Post report, Hong Kong lawmakers voted 41-3 on a non-binding motion to remove Filipinos' visa-free access to Hong Kong. The same report said lawmakers also passed a non-binding motion to "impose sanctions on the [Philippines]."
The votes come after Hong Kong's chief executive Leung Chun-ying warned that Hong Kong would impose sanctions on the country if the national government does not take "concrete steps" to resolve issue raised by victims of bungled hostage-taking incident that happened in the Philippine capital 3 years ago.
The non-binding motion will not necessarily become law, but "[exerts] pressure not only on the Hong Kong government but also the Philippines," said Hong Kong lawmaker Wong Kwok-kin in an earlier Morning Post report.
Victims and their families demand "an apology, compensation, punishment for officials involved and improved tourist safety," according to an earlier report from the Morning Post. They have already rejected an apology from Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada.
Earlier, a Hong Kong lawmaker called for restrictions on Filipino domestic helpers. Hong Kong is home to more than 160,000 Filipinos, half of whom are domestic helpers. The proposed amendment has since been withdrawn.
The Morning Post reports that families of the victims hailed the decision. Hong Kong's Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok on Thursday, Nov 7, said that 65 percent of Hong Kong nationals approved of the sanctions.
Meanwhile, Philippine Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma downplayed the move, emphasizing that the country's stand "remains the same."
"Both sides are working quietly to address these concerns and reach a mutually satisfactory conclusion," he said Friday, November 8. – Rappler.com