Protesters gather in Mong Kok during a general strike in Hong Kong yesterday as simultaneous rallies were held across seven districts. Train travel and international flights in the global financial hub have also been thrown into chaos.
AFP
Flights cancelled due to HK protests
Rudy Santos (The Philippine Star) - August 6, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The worsening unrest in Hong Kong has caused a slowdown in airport operations in the Chinese territory and prompted Philippine Airlines (PAL), Cebu Pacific and Cathay Pacific (CX) to cancel 17 flights yesterday to the region plagued by pro-democracy protests in the past weeks.

PAL cancelled four flights: PR 306 Manila-Hong Kong, PR 307 Hong Kong-Manila, PR 318 Manila-Hong Kong, PR 319 Hong Kong-Manila.

Cebu Pacific cancelled two flights: 5J 114 Manila-Hong Kong and 5J 115 Hong Kong-Manila.?Cathay Pacific cancelled nine flights from Hong Kong as well as from Manila that include CX907/906 Hong Kong-Manila-Hong Kong, CX903/902, CX935/934, CX912 Manila-Hong Kong, CX939 Hong Kong-Manila and CX 976 Manila-Hong Kong.  

PAL spokesperson Cielo Villaluna said passengers could be accommodated on the available flights today.

Other options are: rebooking/refunding within the next 30 days with rebooking/refunding fees waived.

“Our Hong Kong station team and the airport authorities are in regular communication. The goal is to restore normal airport operations at the soonest possible time,” Villaluna said.

Passengers may check the status of their flights by visiting the flight status page of www.philippineairlines.com or by calling PAL hotline (+63)(2) 855-8888.

“We are seeking the kind understanding of our passengers affected by the slowdown in Hong Kong operations. We will provide regular updates on the situation in Hong Kong,” she added.

Cebu Pacific said passengers of cancelled flight 5J 112 Manila-Hong Kong were transferred to 5J 114 while passengers of 5J 113 Hong Kong-Manila were transferred to 5J 115 Hong Kong-Manila.?Cebu Pacific said affected passengers would be accommodated on later flights.

For tickets booked on or before Aug. 5, with travel dates on Aug. 5, 6 and 7, Cebu Pacific will waive all charges for rebooking and refunds. Passengers may message the official Cebu Pacific Air accounts via Facebook or Twitter to make such changes.?“As much as possible, we will try our best to operate flights as scheduled. For passengers who do need to travel today until Aug. 7, allot more time and prepare as there may be additional security measures put in place as well as disruptions in public transport,” the airline said.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) confirmed that a Filipino worker in Hong Kong was arrested last Saturday for allegedly participating in pro-democracy protest rallies.

In a report by ABS-CBN, Philippine deputy consul general in Hong Kong Germinia Aguilar-Usudan confirmed the arrest of the Filipino, who requested not to be identified because he was worried about his mother’s health.

Usudan said the Filipino, arrested in Mong Kok for wearing a black shirt, is being assisted by two Hong Kong lawyers.

“Currently, the Filipino is under investigation for ‘unlawful assembly’ in line with his alleged participation in the rallies. But the consulate general is making sure that his legal rights (and his assertions of innocence) are duly respected,” the DFA said.

Usudan reported to the DFA that consulate general personnel have visited the Filipino, who was found to be in good condition.  

“The Filipino categorically denied that he was taking part in the protest and insisted that he was just in the area to buy food, passing through the side streets, knowing that protests were ongoing in the main streets,” the DFA said.

However, protesters were also on the side street where he was, and started running as they were chased by riot police.  

The Filipino was accosted by the police in the belief that he was one of the pro-democracy protesters.

The DFA said the consulate general is in close coordination with authorities and the Filipino’s lawyers to facilitate his release.  

Eman Villanueva, secretary-general of Bayan Muna Hong Kong, said the arrest was a case of mistaken identity.

He said the Filipino was just passing by Mong Kok on his way home when the police charged and ran after some of the protesters. 

The DFA advised yesterday all Filipinos in Hong Kong or those traveling to the territory to avoid areas where protests are being held following recent clashes.

The Philippine consulate general in Hong Kong maintains open communication lines with the administrative government regarding the situation and will provide the corresponding notification to the public, as necessary.

Deployment

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is looking into the possibility of stopping the deployment of Filipino workers to Hong Kong amid growing tension in the region.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the government is assessing the situation and may come out with the decision whether to impose a ban or not within the week.

“Imposing a deployment ban to Hong Kong is under consideration, taking into account the arrest of one Filipino worker,” Bello said in an interview.

“But we will first be consulting our OFWs before making a decision on the possibility of imposing a temporary ban until the situation in Hong Kong returns to normal,” he added.

Bello noted that the Filipino worker did not join the protest but was just suspected of taking part in the protest and was arrested.

According to Bello, the government has already provided lawyers to assist the Filipino worker. 

Bello assured the family of the Filipino worker that the government will continue monitoring the condition of the arrested worker.

While assessment is ongoing, Bello said, the DOLE has issued an advisory reminding overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Hong Kong to avoid areas of protest and demonstration to avoid arrest.

An official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) yesterday asked the DFA to extend assistance to the Filipino worker arrested in Hong Kong.

CBCP Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People (ECMI) chairman Bataan Bishop Ruperto Santos asked for the DFA officials’ “valuable assistance and urgent help” for the Filipino who was arrested in Hong Kong.

Santos said they have been constantly reminding OFWs not to join any rally because it would only affect their work and stay in Hong Kong. – With Pia Lee-Brago, Mayen Jaymalin, Evelyn Macairan

 

GENERAL STRIKE IN HONG KONG
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