By Mario Casayuran
Opposition Senator Leila de Lima Saturday defended the right of China, including its Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, to refuse entry to non-citizens into its territory.
De Lima issued the statement after Hong Kong immigration authorities had barred separately the entry of former Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Albert del Rosario and former Ombudsman Carmencita Carpio-Morales to Hong Kong.
Del Rosario was barred entry into Hong Kong the other day while Morales was barred last month.
De Lima conceded that China was slighted by the complaint filed by the two against China President Xi Jinping for alleged crimes against humanity with the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) committed at the South China Sea.
‘’China’s message is clear. Like an abused child who grew up strong, it will no longer allow itself to be bullied again. Unfortunately, it has instead decided to be the bully. We accept this as a given,’’ she said.
‘’What should not be a given is Malacañang’s consistent acting as China’s spokesperson,’’ she pointed out.
‘’Indeed, when was the last time Malacañang sided with Filipinos and the Philippine national interest when the issue of our country’s dispute with China in the WPS arises? Not when our fishermen are water-hosed at Scarborough Shoal,’’ she said.
‘’Not when China puts missiles in the Spratlys. Not when it threatens to shoot down Philippine Air Force (PAF) planes flying over the country’s EEZ. Not when its maritime militia rams Philippine fishing boats and leaves their crew for dead. Not when it detains and harasses two defenseless senior citizens in its airport for filing a case against it,’’ she added.
Notably, the harassment of Secretary del Rosario by Chinese immigration took place less than two weeks after a Chinese fishing vessel, largely believed to be a part of China’s maritime militia, rammed the Philippine fishing boat Gem-Ver 1 and left its Filipino crew for dead.
‘’The Gem-Ver ramming is just the latest example of the crimes against humanity committed by China in the WPS. And thanks to Morales and Del Rosario, China has another reason to worry that it cannot go on committing these crimes, whether against Filipinos or other nationalities, without international consequences,’’ she added.
‘’China is clearly bothered with the Morales and Del Rosario ICC complaint, but petty enough to retaliate against the two by harassing and detaining them at the HK airport,’’ she said.
‘’Such pettiness may be expected of China. After decades of being exploited and subjugated by Europe at the turn of the 20th century and by Japan during World War II, it has finally found the economic and military power to flex its muscle against its less powerful neighbors,’’ she explained.
President Duterte called the Gem-Ver ramming a small maritime incident.
Malacanang spokesman Salvador Panelo harped on Del Rosario’s use of his diplomatic passport to defend China’s harassment.