By Roy Mabasa
Filipinos in Hong Kong are advised to exercise extreme caution and vigilance in the light of the ongoing mass protests where hundreds of thousands of people are joining the march in the central part of the former Crown Colony.
In two separate advisories issued Wednesday night, the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Philippine Consulate in Hong Kong asked Filipinos to keep away from areas where rallies are being held, specifically those places outside government central offices in Admiralty and in Tamar Park.
Unless absolutely needed, the Philippine Consulate said Filipinos should consider rescheduling their consular transactions at the Consulate General which is located very near the demonstration areas.
Philippine officials are also requesting the Filipino community to keep themselves updated with the security situation in Hong Kong as of this time through media reports.
Consul General to Hong Kong Antonio Morales said they continue to monitor the situation and will provide public advisories from time to time as necessary.
Morales added that the Consulate stands ready to provide assistance if needed.
The ongoing protest was triggered by the proposed amendments to Hong Kong’s extradition laws that would allow criminal suspects to be extradited to China.
Critics of the said proposal pointed out that the changes would damage the territory’s legal independence and suspects would not be guaranteed fair trials.
This fear was exacerbated when the Hong Kong court, also in April, convicted nine leaders of the 2014 pro-democracy protests known as the “Umbrella Movement.”
Since its handover in 1997, Hong Kong is now officially known as the Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People’s Republic of China.