This picture taken on August 23, 2016 shows former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales gesturing during an interview at the Office of the Ombudsman in Manila.
AFP/Noel Celis
Ex-Ombudsman Morales tags China for 'bullying'
( - May 22, 2019 - 2:34pm

MANILA, Philippines — Former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales said her being blocked from entry into Hong Kong, where she and her family were supposed to go on vacation, was bullying by China but also acknowledged that "a country has its own rules."

Morales and her family returned to Manila late Tuesday after she was turned away by Hong Kong immigration officials upon their arrival before noon that day. She said she was treated well but also said she did not accept any food from immigration authorities, only bottled water.

Hong Kong legislator Ted Hui Chi-fung is quoted in Japan-based media agency Nikkei Asian Review as saying barring Morales, 78, from the special administrative region of China, was “barbaric” and not grounded in law.

Hui said Morales' brief detention at the immigration office at Hong Kong International Airport was for "political reasons" instead of security reasons.

"Under the 'One Country, Two Systems' policy, the Hong Kong government has no legal basis to consider the court case that has nothing to do with Hong Kong," he was quoted as saying.

"Deportation based on a court case is plan barbaric," Hui added.

ICC communication vs China's Xi Jinping

Morales and former top diplomat Albert del Rosario called the attention of the International Criminal Court to Beijing’s massive island-building activities in the South China Sea.

Morales and del Rosario submitted a communication to ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda on behalf of Filipino fishermen “persecuted and injured” by Chinese officials.

They specifically named Chinese President Xi Jinping among the other officials of China in their letter to the international tribunal.

Morales believes that she was turned away from Hong Kong, a Special Administrative Region of China, due to her filing to the ICC.

Del Rosario said he believes the same.

But this action from Hong Kong immigration officials only fuelled her resolve to urge the ICC to act on their communication, Morales said.

“As I said a while ago, it keeps us more resolved to pursue the case to bring the level of the case to crescendo. We will fight for examination,” she said.

READ: ICC correspondence vs China's Xi: What happens next?

'Shock and awe'

The former ombudsman, who is also a retired Supreme Court justice, said that she believes what happened to her was bullying. “How do you call that if that’s not bullying,” she told members of the press in an ambush interview streamed by News5.

Morales also said that she was neither shocked nor awed when she was denied entry to Hong Kong. Shock and awe is a military concept of rapid dominance to disorient an opponent and sap their will to fight.

“May theory na shock and awe daw. Hindi naman ako nasha-shock. Hindi naman ako na-o-awe. Nabubwisit lang,” she said.

(There is a theory that it was 'shock and awe.' I wasn't shocked, I wasn't awed. I was just annoyed.)

A spoiled vacation for grandkids

The 78-year-old retired justice also lamented that Hong Kong’s action deprived her of seeing her grandchildren enjoying a vacation.

Morales was with her husband, son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren.

She said that she felt frustrated because it spoiled the promise she gave to her son that she would bring her deceased son’s children to a theme park in Hong Kong.

“Precisely we went to Hong Kong because I promised my grandchildren, who are the children of my son who passed away almost four years ago. I promised them we would go to Hong Long and we would go to Disneyland,” she said.

She added in a mix of English and Filipino: “I missed the sight of them, with the gleam in their eyes, jumping with excitement. This hurts me the most, that I missed that.”

Morales was detained in a room in the airport for four hours before she was allowed to continue on her trip, but she and her family opted to return to Manila instead. — Kristine Joy Patag

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