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Rodrigo Duterte

Philippine consul general in Hong Kong seeks to ease fears over security screening for Duterte visit

Those wishing to attend April 12 event had to submit their passport and Hong Kong ID card details online

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 April, 2018, 10:06pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 April, 2018, 11:30am

The new Philippine consul general in Hong Kong has assured his compatriots their personal data will be protected during security measures to screen guests at a meet-and-greet with the country’s president Rodrigo Duterte next week.

Duterte will hold a six-hour meeting with members of the city’s Filipino community on April 12, and online registration has been extended to this Friday to accommodate as many people as possible at Kai Tak Cruise Terminal, the likely venue, Antonio Morales said on Tuesday.

The tough-talking President Duterte, known by his nicknames “Digong” or “Du30” and internationally famous for his foul-mouthed tirades, is making a brief visit to Hong Kong, home to some 217,000 Filipinos, of whom 203,000 work as domestic workers.

His stopover will follow his attendance at the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference set for April 8 to 11 in Hainan province, which will feature a keynote address from President Xi Jinping. Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor will also attend.

The Philippine consulate has come under fire for its arrangements for the visit from Filipino community leaders over its possible location – the 1,500-capacity cruise terminal – and for the screening measures. Those wishing to attend must submit their passport and Hong Kong ID card details online.  

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There was also unease about the distance many workers would need to travel to get to the cruise terminal on Shing Fung Road and the date of the visit, a Thursday, instead of a Sunday, the usual day off for many workers.

Duterte’s visit also follows the sudden recall of popular labour attaché Jalilo Dela Torre, just two years into a three-year term.

Morales, a veteran diplomat and law graduate from the University of the Philippines, took over the post three months ago after spending three and a half years as Philippine ambassador to Singapore.

He explained how the diplomatic mission had taken steps to address concerns over the visit.

“We are treating [personal information] with utmost confidentiality ... the data we gather will not be shared with any third party and will be only used for the event.”

After the event, “we will destroy printed copies, and shred them and erase the Excel file”, he added.

The online registration was required to ensure the “limited slots” were filled on a first-come, first-served basis, he said.

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Morales said Kai Tak Cruise Terminal was the most likely option, as most other locations require booking a year in advance and the consulate was informed of Duterte’s visit “not so long ago”. The

venue has yet to be officially confirmed.

He said the terminal’s arrival or baggage hall could be spruced up specifically for the event. 

Of Dela Torre, Morales said: “In the short time that I’ve been here, I’ve worked closely with ... our labour attaché and I found him to be hard-working, honest and really had his heart for our Filipino workers here.

“With or without him we will continue with pushing in our fight against human trafficking. That is our function. Personalities come and go but the function of the office remains.”