“No. In fact, as I said a while ago, it keeps us more resolved to pursue the case, to bring the level of the case to crescendo,” Morales told reporters upon her arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Tuesday night when asked if the incident made her regret the filing of a communication before the Hague-based ICC against Xi and other Beijing officials.
Boy Santos
Morales to pursue complaint vs Xi despite ‘bullying’
Elizabeth Marcelo (The Philippine Star) - May 23, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Held for hours at the Hong Kong airport for vague reasons, former ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales said her experience of Chinese “bullying” has only strengthened her resolve to push for the prosecution of Chinese President Xi Jinping before the International Criminal Court (ICC).

“No. In fact, as I said a while ago, it keeps us more resolved to pursue the case, to bring the level of the case to crescendo,” Morales told reporters upon her arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Tuesday night when asked if the incident made her regret the filing of a communication before the Hague-based ICC against Xi and other Beijing officials.

“We will fight for the examination of the ICC prosecutor,” she said.

In the ICC complaint she filed together with former foreign affairs chief Albert del Rosario and a group of fishermen, Xi is being accused of “crimes against humanity” in connection with China’s massive and environmentally destructive reclamation activities in the South China Sea.

Morales arrived at the Hong Kong airport Tuesday afternoon with her family when she was apprehended by immigration officials and isolated in a holding room for more than four hours.

“I was brought to a detention room. I was detained for maybe four hours... They were asking me several questions and telling me that I have to board a plane back to the Philippines,” Morales recounted in a combination of English and Filipino.

“I kept asking them the reason why I’m being detained so that I can defend myself. They merely told me for ‘immigration reason’,” Morales added.

Morales said the immigration officials were also asking her to sign a document that had many blank entries.

“Of course I refused to sign it, I said all the entries in this document should be filled out first,” Morales said.

Morales said she was eventually released and was told that she could now enter the territory, but her family decided to no longer push through with their planned vacation and immediately boarded a flight back to Manila.

Morales was with her husband Eugenio, their son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren, when she was held by immigration authorities. Morales said the family was about to go to Hong Kong Disneyland as her promised treat to her grandchildren. Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China.

She denounced the incident as an act of “bullying” by the Chinese government, adding that it definitely had something to do with the complaint they filed with the ICC in March.

“Yes, that was bullying, how do you call it if that’s not bullying,” Morales said.

Hacked phones

Morales, however, admitted that she somehow felt “paranoid” upon arriving in Hong Kong as her telephones were hacked about two weeks ago.

“My telephones are hacked that’s why I’m already paranoid. Na-hack maybe about two weeks ago. But someone told me it could have been hacked as early as several years ago,” Morales said.

Morales said the thought of being barred from entering Hong Kong had occurred to her prior to the trip but she was quick to dismiss the thought.

“It occurred to me to consider that. In fact, before I went to Hong Kong, I was saying to some people ‘I’m leaving for Hong Kong at baka hindi ako papasukin because of that (ICC case)... But the idea seemed farfetched, though it could be a possibility,” Morales recounted.

Morales said she has yet to “reflect” on whether to file any action against China regarding the incident.

In their 17-page communication filed with the ICC on March 13, Morales and Del Rosario said China’s massive reclamation works in the South China Sea and West Philippine Sea had deprived Filipinos, especially the fishermen, of food and livelihood.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros dared the Duterte administration to protest Morales’ humiliation at the hands of Hong Kong immigration authorities.

Hontiveros said the former ombudsman’s being held at the airport for unclear reasons was “a clear act of intimidation and retaliation” for her filing a case with the ICC against Xi.

“I challenge President Duterte’s administration to defend one of the country’s most accomplished public servants and bring this directly to the Chinese government, lest it be accused of siding with China against one of our country’s own citizens,” Hontiveros said in a statement.

She said that without “a strong and definitive stand from the Philippine government, the incident could happen again to other Filipino citizens critical of China’s incursions in the West Philippine Sea.” – With Paolo Romero, Cecille Suerte Felipe

CONCHITA CARPIO-MORALES XI JINPING
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