By Susmita May B. Policarpio (As appeared in Omega Magazine 2013-2014)
Without the visa-free access in a country means a visa requirement. And getting a visa can mean a tedious process of waiting in long lines. Plus, the fees and heavy documentation until you get your VISA (Visitor Intended for Seeking Admission.)
Otherwise, the visa-free access countries can boost tourism industry and increase of foreign currency earnings because of the spending of tourists in the Philippines market; And, without the process of producing a visa.
Consider those as you read this story.
First the story started on August 23, 2010, when police officer Rolando Mendoza took 22 Hong Kong tourists and three Filipinos captive on a tour bus. He shot dead seven tourists and their guide before being killed in a rescue, later investigated as a failure rescue ¡n the most part of Manila Police District.
Right after the hostage crisis, a black warning – the highest warning – against travel to the Philippines had been and remains ¡n force, which makes the Philippines more dangerous for the Hong Kong nationals than going to Syria.
Three years later
What pulled the trigger for new discussions about the issue are Hong Kong party called People Power calling on HK lawmakers to impose sanctions. Then, lawmakers voted in favor of a motion pressing the government to impose sanctions on Manila and cancel visa-free access for Filipinos.
Hong Kong takes the Hostage crisis as a complicated issue and the reason why it have gone on for three years and counting. Or so Hong Kong Legislators say.
Survivors and victims’ relatives demand for a formal apology, compensation, punishment of responsible officials and improved tourist safety.
Chief executive Leung Chun-ying in a statement said, “Unless, within a month, there are concrete steps taken to resolve this issue, the government will take necessary actions to apply sanctions.
HK threatened a non-visa-free access to HK and possible trade sanctions while in travel warning to the country.
A quiet conversation happened between HK and Philippines to work on victim’s demands.
But President Aquino has made a firm decision not to make a formal apology on behalf of the Country.
Even Chief Executive Chun-ying or known as CV said HK and Philippine officials have been discussing the matter but talks lead to no result over the apology that HK demanded.
No more 14-day Visa-free access
Before the coming of Lunar New Year, Hong Kong threat got real.
In January 29, HK government canceled visa-free diplomatic passport privileges with the exception to existing accredited Philippine consular officials. Hong Kong did this after PNoy refused to apologize to the victims of the hostage-taking incident.
That cancellation of visa-free as the first phase of sanctions followed a “token for solidarity” and an official statement from Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
The DFA did not specify the tokens but said, “Are substantially more than those that have been previously accepted by the victims and their families”.
But Philippines is undecided to consider the renegotiation offered by HK. The Philippines won’t apologize. That has been the latest in the quiet discussions made by Hong Kong and Philippines
In any Issue, reactions and comments are the most interesting part. The people’s perception on the event and how it had impact also influence the future course of the issue.
Some may say, at least only the officials visa are sanctioned unlike the initial threat of involving everyone who wish to go to HK.
Perhaps the reason is more than 160, 000 Philippine nationals reside in Hong Kong and most working as domestic helpers. And bilateral trade between the two totalled some $82 billion in 2012 Again, consider the first two paragraphs.
Maybe Chun-ying has thought the consequence the Hong
Kong economy might face in a difficult position.
A little fact about Hong Kong. Hong Kong is a special administrative region of PRC (Peoples Republic of China). China is in dispute over the Scarborouqh shoal in the West Philippine Sea.
HK legislator said the sanctions could be stepped up gradually to pressure the Philippine side.
Some of the reactions posted on the website of Hong Kong’s English language daily, the South China Morning Post, are:
A ‘yuan.enriquez.3’ commented “Hong Kong is only a city, the Philippines is a sovereign country. Thus, the head of Hong Kong does not have the diplomatic right to directly call and make demands to the PRESIDENT of the Philippines as if they are equal.”
“Less Filipinos traveling to HK slow down HK tourism, and it will be the perfect opportunity for Japan, Singapore, Bangkok and Malaysia to market themselves to the Filipinos. I know for a fact that two of those nations eye Filipinos as a top market potential, an ‘average joe’ said.
A ‘johndoe’ concluded after the sanction threats, “This is a populist ploy by CY to drum up some support for a non-issue to detract from bigger problems. The Filipinos have enough problems at home; Hong Kong should show a good example. And why should these families suddenly get so much power and influence? People die of flu, heart attack, cancer, obesity or whatever every day and their families get nothing for it.”
A ‘michael.michael.’ analyzed the hostage taking as, “No honest and clear effort was made to rescue those hostages by the PH government until it was too late. If the hostage situation had occurred in HK, you know HK would have sent out their elite SDU unit to save the hostages, not a bunch of ill equipped, fully retarded, and wannabe rambo look alike police officers.”
“Isn’t sanction a bit too late now? This ¡s not very diplomatic at all and why are we dragging the rest of Hong Kong into this an ‘aarondotpang’ asked and perhaps some of us asked as well.