• HK renews travel alert against PH

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    The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region on Monday renewed its travel warning to the Philippines, citing the “widespread damage” from Super Typhoon Yolanda to central Philippines on November 8.

    In the advisory posted on its Security Bureau, the HK government noted that the Philippines had declared a state of national calamity because of “food and water shortages, deteriorating hygienic conditions, electricity outages and poor communications in the affected areas.”

    Hong Kong first issued a black travel alert against the Philippines on August 23, 2010, the day that disgruntled former policeman Rolanda Mendoza seized a bus full of Hong Kong tourists.

    During the botched rescue attempt that was televised on local and international media, eight tourists died along with Mendoza.

    The families of the victims have been demanding a formal apology from President Benigno Aquino 3rd.

    However, the President stood firm on his decision not to apologize, saying that the Luneta incident was an act of a single individual who did not represent the Filipino people.

    Hong Kong has for months been considering imposing sanctions against the Philippines, including the possible lifting of the visa-free access for Filipinos, which has been approved by the island’s lawmakers.

    Besides the August 2010 hostage crisis, the Security Bureau also cited several instances of “terrorist attacks” such as the August 2013 car bombing in Cotabato City and the September 2013 clashes in Zamboanga City.

    The advisory also said the US Embassy in Manila updated its warning to its citizens in May because of possible kidnap threats in the Mindanao region.

    The black travel alert is the most serious in Hong Kong’s three-tier outbound travel alert system.

    The other alerts are red for significant threat and amber for signs of threat.

    The Philippines is one of only three countries to be assigned the black alert by Hong Kong.

    The others are Egypt and Syria.

    In November, Hong Kong lawmakers warned that they will push through with economic sanctions against the Philippines if Manila fails to meet the demands of the relatives of the victims.

    Tam Yiu-chung, chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said sanctions should not be deferred. Fernando Cheung of the Labor Party agreed, saying that the disaster brought by Super Typhoon Yolanda is has no direct relationship with the hostage taking incident.

    “I wouldn’t agree to delaying the sanction. The hostage incident is a matter of justice for the Hong Kong people and especially the victims,” ABS-CBN quoted the lawmaker as saying.

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