Ex-Ombudsman Carpio-Morales: ‘I was detained’

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MANILA—Former Philippine Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales was held for about three hours at the Hong Kong international airport before she was eventually allowed to enter HK yesterday (May 21).

Carpio-Morales, who had filed a case against Chinese President Xi Jinping at the International Criminal Court (ICC), was to go on vacation in HK with members of her family when she was held by immigration officers.

Her Philippine Airlines flight landed at the airport at 12:20 p.m. but she was only allowed entry to Hong Kong after 3 p.m.

Carpio-Morales, who was with her husband, son, daughter-in-law, and two grandchildren, eventually decided to go back to the Philippines rather than proceed with their vacation. She had wanted to bring her grandchildren to Disneyland.

“I was detained. Pagdating ko, I was brought to a room na hindi naman yun dapat yung sa arriving visitors. I was interrogated and then pagkatapos dinala nila ako sa detention room nila,” Carpio-Morales said last night after returning here in Manila.

“They asked me to sign papers in Tagalog, and I said I wanted an English version. When I read it, it said there ‘detention,’” she added.

Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr said Immigration did not give a reason as to why Carpio-Morales was held at the airport while her companions were allowed to enter HK.

“She was refused entry with airport officials saying only ‘this is an instruction.’ Our HK consul asked if he could sponsor or guarantee her stay but HK refused,” Locsin said.

“While awaiting her flight back, we sent our (Assistance To Nationals) officer to bring her food because she refused to eat the food offered by airport officials,” he added.

Carpio-Morales and former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario in March filed a complaint at the ICC against Chinese President Xi Jinping over alleged “crimes against humanity” due to Beijing’s activities in the West Philippine Sea in March 2019. Carpio-Morales said she believed her detention was related to the case.

HK Legislative Council member Ted Hui Chi-fung said barring Morales from entering Hong Kong was unreasonable and “barbaric.”

“Looks like political reasons rather than security reasons were considered. Deportation based on a court case is plain barbaric,” Hui said.

“This incident harms Hong Kong’s declining international reputation. I urge the government to explain this case openly” he added.

The Immigration Department yesterday declined to comment on the matter due to Hong Kong’s strict privacy rules.