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  • Sep 20, 2014
  • Updated: 12:59pm
NewsHong Kong
MANILA HOSTAGE ROW

Filipinos set to snub Hong Kong after visa threat in Manila hostage row

Threat to scrap visa-free access to Hong Kong brings a swift response on social media, with many saying they will turn their backs on city

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 November, 2013, 6:01am
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 November, 2013, 6:01am

Filipinos have reacted with bitterness to the decision by Hong Kong lawmakers to push for the scrapping of their visa-free trips to the city and are threatening to take their cash elsewhere.

Jim Paredes, a popular songwriter and performer, posted on Facebook: "OK Hong Kong, it's been nice knowing you. But you will miss us more than we will miss you."

And on Twitter, user @vita_bella88 said: "Dear HK, see if we care. You need us more than we need you. Thank us for your economy. Good riddance."

The comments came after Legco passed a non-binding motion last week to press the government to impose sanctions on Manila and cancel visa-free access for Filipinos.

It followed Manila's failure to meet the demands of survivors and the families of victims of the hostage crisis three years ago.

Eight Hongkongers were shot dead by sacked Manila police officer Rolando Mendoza and seven injured in the bus siege and botched rescue attempt.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying had previously said he would impose sanctions if the Philippines failed to apologise and give compensation. The families and survivors also want to see the officials responsible punished and tourist safety improved in the Philippine capital.

But the lawmakers' call for sanctions has been met with sadness and resentment.

"It's time to move on from our HK obsession," Mavie Ungco posted on Facebook yesterday.

A young professional, she and her husband - a chef/restaurateur - have visited Hong Kong at least twice a year since 2009.

"We go there to shop, eat and unwind," she told the Sunday Morning Post. Ungco said that every time she and her family visited "we spend a considerable amount. We stay anywhere from three to five days. We call it the Land of Everyday Shopping". But she said a visa requirement would "definitely discourage" her family from visiting.

"We like to go to Hong Kong, but if they don't want our business we'll take it elsewhere."

Gabe Mercado, a performer and training consultant, said on Facebook: "While Hong Kong has always been the favourite short haul vacation destination for Filipinos, most of us will start looking at Singapore and Bangkok more seriously, now that there is this de facto ban on us."

Mercado posted Hong Kong Tourism Board figures showing that from January to September of this year there were 517,562 visitors from the Philippines.

He noted: "Assume that 100,000 more will come and visit between now and the end of the year and you have [about] 617,000 [visitors]."

He estimated that if every Filipino visitor spent an "extremely low average" of US$200, that would come to US$123.4 million.

He warned: "Tourist income could be in danger now that Filipinos will be needing visas."

Other reactions to the proposed visa requirement have been stronger. A Filipino with the account @crustedsauce tweeted: "Why dream about Hong Kong? It is an ugly place without civilisation and culture."

And a Facebook user, Ces Clemente-Ocampo, commented: "They just cut off their nose to spite their face. We will simply take our retail dollars elsewhere."

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This article is now closed to comments

seanniem
CY is only trying pathetically to gain back his plummeting popularity particularly after the license TV fiasco. I don't think he cares a bit for the victims and families.
alpot_scmp
Even assuming that Filipinos still choose to go to HK aren't they just adding more work to the HK immigration, more paper work to process the visa application?
whoaman
The whole thing is a sad affair that just got sadder - but CY is falling in line well with Chinese gov't, acting like a child in foreign affairs.
AdamBombGlidden
I think the whole thing is ridiculous. I am a foreigner living here in the Philippines and I have experienced first hand the lack of training and the disrespect of the law that the police here have. Honestly some of the worse criminals in the Philippines are the police. I actually was making a video of some of them illegally entering and taking gambling machines from places and it was because of the money. They ripped my cellphone from my hand and threatened to arrest me if I did not delete the video! This is after telling me that everything they were doing was perfectly legal which of course was not true since they had no search warrants and they were waving guns around. With that said though it is partly the responsibility of the tourist as well as their government to be educated on this and take the information they have and decide if they want to risk it. I myself have been invited by Filipino friends to go to Mindano that it is safe but the American embassy advises us not to go because of the threat of terrorism and I listen. The two governments in this situation need to stop blaming each other and figure out how to improve things so something like this can be avoided in the future. The families of the victims while they have my deepest sympathies need to accept that their relatives made a choice to travel to a country that is not the safest place in the world and they paid the price for that.
aarondotpang
Isnt sanction a bit too late now? this is not very diplomatic at all and why are we dragging the rest of Hong Kong into this?
mightysimon
It's all politics.... I pity Hong Kong!
babyhenry
Because HKers want this to happen?
skywalker
It is very sad to read that in the end all only about MONEY. It is unimaginable hard for the families of the victims of that incident in Manila to cope with it, but the public discussion and what our politicians make out of it is just ridiculous. It all comes down to threatening each other with the power of shopping. That is very sad! Reducing the severity of such incident to that level of who can spend his money where does not bring back the lives of the ones killed and will is a very primitive form of coping with the aftermath. I thought that Hong Kong is more advanced than the Philippines in many aspects, but I am disappointed that our politicians ant the media here - including SCMP - is raging on street brawl level with it. If the Hong Kong government would be sovereign and in control they would not be that easy to anger by whatever the Philippine officials are doing or not.

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