Rodrigo Duterte

Hong Kong ‘should not welcome tyrant’ Duterte as city prepares for Philippine president’s arrival

Human rights groups are gearing up for protests against Duterte, citing ‘widespread human rights violations happening in the Philippines’ and his ‘strong-arm rule’

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 April, 2018, 8:14pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 April, 2018, 5:31pm

Hong Kong should not welcome a “tyrant and a fascist”, Hong Kong human rights advocates said as the city prepared to host Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, a divisive figure at home and abroad.

Duterte is expected to arrive late on Tuesday after attending the Boao Forum for Asia where he and President Xi Jinping were expected to hold talks on terrorism and drug trafficking on the forum’s sidelines.

After arriving at Hong Kong International Airport by private jet, he will be whisked by a heavily armed police motorcade to the InterContinental Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui, where he will stay during his three-day “working visit”. While his itinerary remained a mystery, Philippine media have reported that he was close to sealing a deal for the deployment of Filipino domestic workers to mainland China as well as more Filipino English teachers. 

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The brash Duterte has been the target of human rights groups in the Philippines and internationally for his heavy-handed tactics in his war on drugs that included extrajudicial killings as well as silencing dissent by revoking the licences of media groups that questioned his policies.

Group leaders, who represent Hong Kong’s more than 203,000 Filipino domestic workers, have said they feel let down by Duterte because of his failure to live up to a campaign promise to create jobs at home as well as failing to protect overseas workers from exploitative recruitment agencies. 

Some Filipinos were also angered over the sudden recall of the country’s labour attaché to Hong Kong, Jalilo Dela Torre, known for his strong anti-trafficking views.  

Human rights groups are gearing up to join protests against Duterte planned by Filipino domestic workers’ associations, citing widespread human rights violations happening in the Philippines and his strong-arm rule.

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One of those groups, Hong Kong Campaign for the Advancement of Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines, said in a statement on Tuesday that “a tyrant and a fascist deserves no warm welcome”.

“With thousands of deaths from his mindless war on drugs, displacement and killings due to militarisation and bombings in rural areas, arbitrary arrests of activists … human rights supporters and peace-loving people in Hong Kong cannot stand and welcome a murderous president to the city,” said Ma Wan-ki, a convenor of the campaign.

“President Duterte is a tyrant who has no regard for due process and checks and balances, and has no respect for human rights. He is a fascist who muzzles even the media and the courts, and who resorts to brutality to get what he wants for his personal gains as well as the oligarchs and landlords who support him.” 

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The campaign called on the Hong Kong government “to be transparent in its dealings with Duterte”. 

“Hong Kong people do not want to be known as supportive of a president notorious for normalising killings, violence against women, and fascistic response to criticisms and opposition.”

The outcry came as police continued to take measures to ensure Duterte is safe during his visit. 

Barricades have been set up outside the InterContinental to prevent vehicle attacks. Police have even dispatched divers from the elite Special Duties Unit, also known as the Flying Tigers, into Victoria Harbour to carry out security checks for explosives and other dangerous items.

On Tuesday afternoon, police cordoned off the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal, where Duterte will meet some 2,000 Filipinos on Thursday. 

Roderico Atienza, Philippine deputy consul general, said the gathering is the only official meeting scheduled during his visit. 

Atienza refused to say who would be travelling with the president, although Duterte is usually accompanied by his top officials, politicians and businessmen.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s office said Duterte’s visit was unofficial and was unsure if Hong Kong officials will meet him.