By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
HONG KONG — Malacañang denied that there will be an announcement of PDP-Laban’s senatorial slate for the 2019 polls during President Duterte’s meeting with the members of the Filipino community in Hong Kong Thursday night.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque told Palace reporters in Hong Kong that Duterte’s meeting will be solely about the Filipinos in the region.
“I don’t think so. Wala pong announcement. Talagang ito po ay para sa mga OFWs (There will be no announcement. This is really for the OFWs),” Roque said Wednesday evening.
The Palace official also stated that there will be no announcement of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio’s senatorial bid during the meeting. He said that his own possible Senate run is also up in the air.
“Sabi ko naman sa inyo, tutok tayo dito sa ating trabaho. Alam niyo naman kung gaano kahirap ang ating trabaho dahil kasama ko kayo sa (I told you, I am currently focused on my job as spokesperson. You know how difficult this job is since you are with me in) Malacañang,” Roque said.
Duterte is in Hong Kong for a working visit following his participation in the Boao Forum for Asia 2018 in Hainan, China early this week. Joining him for the first time in an overseas trip is daughter Sara.
The President is in Hong Kong to meet with members of the Filipino community in the region. According to the Philippine Embassy here, Duterte will be meeting with roughly 2,500 Filipinos Thursday night.
The Philippine Embassy here also said that there are around 220,000 Filipinos in Hong Kong with most of the working in the hotel and restaurant industry or in the households of Hong Kong residents.
Prior to meeting the Filipino community here, Duterte first met with some old friends for a dinner at the Harbour View Hong Kong Wednesday night. Joining him was common-law wife Honeylet Avanceña.
This is the second time in only 11 months that Duterte will visit OFWs in Hong Kong. He last set foot in the region in May last year after his participation in the World Economic Forum in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Duterte’s stop to Hong Kong also allowed the President to have a “private time” with his common-law wife Honeylet Avanceña and daughter Veronica.
President Rodrigo Duterte’s visit to Hong Kong is not all roses and butterflies– a protest by activists served as a prelude to his meeting with the Filipino community in the city.
Around 50 activists, led by BAYAN Hong Kong-Macau chair Eman Villanueva, trooped to Middle Road in Hong Kong and aired their sentiments against Duterte’s supposed tyranny.
According to Villanueva, Duterte may be popular but the President’s fame cannot hide the administration’s “ failure to deliver on its promises.” He also claimed that Duterte’s popularity among Filipinos in Hong Kong is slowly waning.
“Some people are saying that he is still very popular. But that cannot hide the fact that the economic and social conditions in the Philippines are worsening and are not getting better. His popularity cannot cover the fact that there are thousands of people who are protesting, who are fighting, his tyranny and dictatorship,” he said.
Lee Cheuk Yan, former member of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong, compared Duterte to Marcos, saying there are more deaths under the present administration.
“We do not welcome him, we do not want him in Hong Kong. We want him to go back home,” Yan said.
“I think he’s still very popular. I would say majority are still supporting. But I think there are also some people who have already some sort of change of heart. It may not be as drastic, but eventually there will be more. He cannot fool the people forever, that’s a fact,” Villanueva added.
“‘Pag dumating na ang oras na talagang kaharap na natin ang problema at hindi na kayang itago ng popularity o ng kanyang mga troll army sa social media, tingin ko sasapitin din niya yung mga sinapit ng mga nakaraang administrasyon (When the time comes that we are faced with a problem and his popularity or social media troll army cannot hide this, then he will suffer the same as the previous administrations),” he continued.
Villanueva also said that Duterte’s administration is worse than its predecessor, citing the supposed “deteriorating” human rights and socioeconomic situation in the Philippines.
“He even called on Congress to impeach and remove the Chief Justice. This is a total disrespect to the rule of law and also to the checks and balance of the government, a disrespect for the equal branches of the government,” he said.
“So this is even much worse than the previous record of the previous administration. And so we are here today to tell the Philippines that he should stop doing this,” he added.