Former Ombudsman Morales arrives in PH after being detained in HK, vows to pursue ICC case against China

Former Philippine Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales is now back in the Philippines after being denied entry in Hong Kong yesterday.

Morales arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Pasay City a little past 9pm yesterday.

The former ombudsman arrived in Hong Kong yesterday afternoon for a holiday with her husband, son, daughter-in-law, and two grandchildren, CNN Philippines reported. But Hong Kong immigration officers stopped her from entering citing “immigration reasons,” then ushered her into a room.

“I was brought to a room which was not meant for arriving visitors,” she told the media in a mix of English and Filipino upon her arrival at NAIA last night. “I was interrogated and then I was brought into a detention room. They asked me to sign something that was written in Tagalog … I told them I want an English version. I read it, and it said there that it was detention.”

She refused to sign the documents and rejected the food and water that was offered to her by airport officials, fearing that they might be poisoned. An airport official eventually told her that she was allowed to enter Hong Kong, but the former government official decided to go home to Manila instead.

Morales said the experience was humiliating, reported The Philippine Daily Inquirer. 

“That is bullying,” she told reporters upon her arrival at NAIA. “If it’s not bullying, how will you call it? I think someone came up with the theory [of] shock and awe. But I wasn’t shocked and I wasn’t awed. I was just angry.”

Germie Usudan, the Philippine Deputy Consul General to Hong Kong, told Coconuts Hong Kong yesterday that the reason for Morales’ detention is unknown.

However, Philippine Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said that it may have something to do with the complaint that she, former foreign secretary Albert del Rosario, and a group of Filipino fishermen filed at the International Criminal Court (ICC) against Chinese President Xi Jinping and other high-ranking government officials in March.

In their complaint, officially called a communication, they said that Xi, in his plan to take over the contested West Philippine Sea, caused “permanent and devastating environmental damage” to the area. Morales and Del Rosario’s complaint asserted that China has committed destructive fishing activities in the area and built military infrastructures on the islands.

Because of her Hong Kong detainment, Morales became even more determined to pursue the ICC complaint against the Chinese government.

“We will fight for the examination by the Office of the Prosecution [of the ICC] of the communication that the ambassador [del Rosario] and I filed,” ABS-CBN News quoted her. “I’ll be the same. I’ll be vocal [against the Chinese government], in the same manner that I have been vocal before.”

President Rodrigo Duterte’s government has consistently refused to enforce a 2016 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague, Netherlands, which invalidated China’s claim over the West Philippine Sea. Duterte is generally perceived to have pro-China policies and even once announced that he was aligning himself ideologically with China.

This article, Former Ombudsman Morales arrives in PH after being detained in HK, vows to pursue ICC case against China, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!