Morales on getting held at Hong Kong airport: ‘It was bullying’

Robie de Guzman
Former Philippine Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales upon her arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport after she was barred from entering Hong Kong on May 21, 2019.

MANILA, Philippines – Former Philippine Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales has called her temporary “detention” at the Hong Kong International Airport a form of bullying, after immigration officials barred her from entering the country for a few hours on Tuesday afternoon.

“Yes, that was bullying. How do you call it if that’s not bullying? I think someone came up with the theory that shocked and awe daw. Hindi naman ako nasho-shock; hindi naman ako naa-awe. Nabubwisit lang,” Morales told reporters upon her arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) at past 10 p.m. Tuesday.

Morales, along with her family, arrived in Hong Kong airport at 12:20 p.m. for a vacation. Her husband, son, daughter-in-law and her grandchildren were allowed entry but Morales was stopped by immigration officials.

Philippine Deputy Consul General Germinia Aguilar-Usudan said the Hong Kong Immigration office did not provide the exact reason why Morales was barred entry.

“For the reason why she was not allowed immediate entry to Hong Kong, we were not given any reason by the immigration office,” she told UNTV News and Rescue in an interview.

READ: Ex-Ombudsman Morales temporarily held at HK airport

According to Morales, Hong Kong authorities told her she was being detained for “immigration reasons,” but refused to explain the grounds.

“They did not tell me anything about it. I was insisting they give me the ground. They said nothing,” she said.

Morales said that during her brief detention, she was asked by Hong Kong Immigration officials to sign a document but she refused to do so because parts of it were blanks.

“I read it and then it said ‘detention,’ and of course, the detention I was thinking of was behind bars,” she added.

With the help of Philippine Consulate officials, the former Ombudsman was eventually allowed entry at around 3 p.m. but she decided to just take the flight back to the Philippines.

“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 said.

In March, Morales along with former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, filed a complaint of crimes against humanity against Chinese President Xi Jinping at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for purportedly damaging the resources at the disputed territory in West Philippine Sea through China’s ongoing reclamation activities in the area.

Morales said the incident at Hong Kong airport on Tuesday afternoon has further strengthened her resolve to proceed with the complaint she filed before the ICC.

Although she has yet to determine her next steps, Morales has vowed to remain resolute at speaking against Chinese policies despite the friendlier stance that the current administration has taken towards China. (with details from Asher Cadapan Jr.)

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