OFW arrested in HK protest wants to visit PH this Christmas
The overseas Filipino worker arrested during an anti-government protest in Hong Kong in early asked a judge this afternoon (Sept. 30) that he be allowed to visit his family in the Philippines this Christmas.
The lawyer of Jethro S. Pioquinto, who works as a dancer in Hong Kong Disneyland, also asked Kowloon City Presiding Magistrate Aida Yim to change his curfew hours so that he could join nighttime Disney performances that could last until midnight.
“He asks if he could visit his family in the Philippines,” his lawyer told the court.
The tribunal earlier allowed Pioquinto to post bail of $2,000 (P13,200), observe a curfew from 12 am to 6 am, and not to leave Hong Kong.
Pioquinto had planned a vacation to the Philippines from August 15 to 23 and had already bought his plane ticket but this did not push through because he was arrested during a protest along Nathan Road in Mong Kok on the evening of August 3.
Pioquinto’s lawyer noted that the charge sheet against the Filipino only mentions that “the crowd of protesters, (Pioquinto and another defendant) among them, started to disperse and the police gave chase”.
“That’s the only allegation against them,” the lawyer said. “(Pioquinto) lives in Prince Edward and he was on his way home (when he was arrested).”
She added that no protest materials were found when he was searched. The police found only his shoulder bag, mobile phone, and his Octopus card.
The lawyer also asked that Pioquinto be allowed to take trips outside Hong Kong because Disneyland sometimes requires him to perform outside the territory.
Judge Yim was initially amenable to allowing Pioquinto to visit his family this Christmas, if he agreed to increase his bail to $20,000 (P132,000). She said this could again be reduced to $2,000 when Pioquinto comes back from the Philippines.
The judge explained that she was amenable to allowing a Philippine visit for the defendant because, since plea had not been taken, the case could drag on for one to two years.
But the prosecutor said Pioquinto’s case would be ready for plea by next hearing in November and so his trial could already be scheduled in January.
“The main concern of the prosecution is (Pioquinto) absconding,” the government lawyer said.
He said the defendant had “no ties in HK” and the police might file additional charges against him at the next hearing.
“Apart from the current charge, the police are still reviewing whether any other serious offence will be imposed,” he said.
Pioquinto’s lawyer decided not to press his request to visit his family in the Philippines but said that they would again revive it if the prosecution is still not ready with its case and no plea is taken at the next hearing on Nov. 26.
On the other hand, the prosecution agreed, and Judge Yim ordered, that Pioquinto’s curfew should start at 1 am instead of midnight so that he can perform at Disneyland late into the evening and still have time to go home.