Philippines wants to keep Hong Kong maids out of row over Manila hostage crisis

Foreign ministry says it will keep working, but justice secretary is not coming to HK

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 14 October, 2013, 8:58am

Filipino domestic workers in Hong Kong should not be used as leverage in the pursuit of a categorical apology for the bungled rescue attempt in the 2010 Manila bus hostage crisis, the Philippine Foreign Affairs Department says.

And the Philippine presidential office yesterday denied a major Philippine TV network report that Secretary of Justice Leila De Lima would come to Hong Kong today to meet the survivors and victims' families.

"Upon contacting her, I learned that she does not have a scheduled trip to Hong Kong," said presidential office spokeswoman Abigail Valte in response to a Post inquiry, after verifying the information with De Lima.

The Manila Bulletin yesterday also quoted Valte as saying that "De Lima has no scheduled trip yet to Hong Kong to carry out the president's directives", referring to Aquino's earlier request that De Lima brief the survivors and victims' families on the status of cases pending in court.

A Hong Kong Security Bureau spokesman last night said it had received no news about De Lima coming to Hong Kong today.

People Power lawmaker Albert Chan Wai-yip last Wednesday said the party would seek a law revision to ban Filipino domestic helpers from working in the city until Manila apologises.

There are about 160,000 Filipino maids in Hong Kong.

"Let us de-link the issue from the Filipino workers in Hong Kong, whose dedication to their work and high skill sets have contributed to the society and economy of Hong Kong," Philippine foreign ministry spokesman Raul Hernandez told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

The spokesman was also quoted as saying that he believed Chan's call for banning Filipino maids would not win popular support in Hong Kong, and that the country would continue to work with the Hong Kong government to resolve the "emotionally charged issue".

At RTHK's weekly City Forum yesterday, Chan defended People Power's suggestion and said Hongkongers should not look to Beijing for help every time it was in conflict with other countries.

The first step in its plan would be a halt in processing new Filipino domestic helpers' applications starting next April.

Chan also suggested an import embargo on the Philippines.

Meanwhile, the Philippine presidential office on Friday said a Manila Standard Today report on Thursday was inaccurate in saying Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and Philippine President Benigno Aquino "both had agreed to put the issue behind them", and that what both agreed instead was to work to put the incident behind them.