Former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales on Tuesday, May 21, was detained by immigration authorities at an airport in Hong Kong.
“I was detained. When I arrived, I was brought into a room that was not meant for arriving visitors. I was interrogated and then after I was brought to their detention room. They asked me to sign papers in Tagalog, and I said I want an English version. When I read it, it said there ‘detention,’” she said.
Morales flew to Hong Kong together with her husband, son, daughter-in-law, and two grandchildren for a family vacation, but was denied entry in the special administrative region of China.
Hong Kong authorities did not give an explanation why Morales, who was told she would have to return to the Philippines on a 6 p.m. flight, was banned from the country.
The family flew back to Manila with Morales after not pushing through with the vacation — a decision which Morales expressed disappointment over as she wanted to see her grandchildren having fun in their trip to Hong Kong Disneyland.
“I was deprived of the opportunity to see my grandchildren enjoy their vacation in Hong Kong,” she said.
The former Philippine official believes her detention was due to the communication she and former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario filed to the International Criminal Court (ICC) against Chinese President Xi Jinping for alleged crimes against humanity.
They called for an investigation into Beijing’s “systematic plan to control the South China Sea,” as well.
Morales said she does not regret filing the communication against Xi.
“That gives us more resolve to pursue the case. That brings the level of the case to crescendo. We will fight for the examination by the Office of the Prosecutor of the communication that the Ambassador and I filed,” she said.
Del Rosario, for his part, likened Hong Kong’s denial of entry to Morales to bullying.
“One of the reasons we had filed our case in the ICC is to be able to push back against the bullying and harassment that we have been encountering from our goliath of a neighbor,” he said in a statement.
“Today, with the holding of Former Ombudswoman Conchita Carpio-Morales by immigration authorities in Hong Kong as a security risk presumably due to the ICC case that we had filed, we are experiencing more of the same,” he added.
Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said they cannot question the action taken by Chinese immigration officials as “the entry of foreigners or the refusal thereof is the exclusive and sovereign prerogative of any country.”