Lawmaker accuses China of fueling tension between Manila, Hong Kong


China is fanning tension between the Philippines and Hong Kong amid the case filed by Manila vs. Beijing’s nine-dash claim in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) pending before the United Nations tribunal, a lawmaker said on Monday.

Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian of Valenzuela City, a stalwart of the Nationalist People’s Coalition, made the accusation in connection with China’s support on Hong Kong’s policy of requiring visa for Philippine government officials who will enter the Chinese administrative region.

“Last week, the spokesman of the Chinese Embassy in Manila said that the Central Government of China supports the first phase of sanctions by the Hong Kong government to cancel visa-free arrangements for Philippine officials and diplomatic passport holders. China is likely fanning the tension between Manila and Hong Kong instead of dousing off the growing political animosity that may likely escalate and affect trade, business and tourism between the two governments,” Gatchalian pointed out.

Gatchalian was referring to the Philippines’ decision to challenge China’s nine-dash claim in West Philippine Sea which overlaps on Manila’s 200 nautical miles exclusive economic zone per the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas—a move staunchly opposed by China.

Hong Kong’s move of requiring visas, on the other hand, came after the Philippines’ adamant stance that it won’t issue an apology over the 2010 Manila hostage taking wherein at least eight tourists from Hong Kong were killed by a hostage take who is a former cop.

“We have shown our sincerity in offering our deepest sympathies to the families of the victims. The whole country should not be punished for someone else’s mistake. The President of the Republic should not be forced to apologize for the incident that was prompted by just one mischief-maker,” Gatchalian stressed.

“I’m just wondering why the issue of ‘apology’ has to drag on for years when in fact the Philippines has deeply regretted the incident and has profusely shown compassion to the families of the victims as well to the Hong Kong government. Instead of provoking Hong Kong, the Chinese government should help in achieving a mutually acceptable resolution and settlement to the Luneta incident and help restore political normalcy,” Gatchalian added.

Aside from mandating visa on Philippine government officials, Hong Kong is also mulling on suspending the processing of new applications of Filipino household service workers by April.

There are at least 160,000 Filipino household service workers in Hong Kong.

“The “first phase of sanctions” is only a sneak peek of things to come and may be extended to cover Filipino tourists and contract workers, and commerce. Domestic workers should not be used as leverage to force the Philippine government to apologize to Hong Kong,” Gatchalian said in closing. LLANESCA T. PANTI



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