By Roy Mabasa
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Monday said they are providing assistance to overseas Filipino worker Jethro Pioquinto who was arrested by Hong Kong police for allegedly participating in an anti-government rally in the former Crown Colony.
Citing reports from its Consulate General’s office in Hong Kong, the DFA said consular personnel have already visited the arrested Filipino national whom they described to be in “good condition.”
Pioquinto, who works at Hong Kong Disneyland, categorically denied participation in the protest, saying he was just passing through the side streets in the busy Mongkok district to buy food.
“The Filipino categorically denied that he was taking part in the protest, and insisted that he was just in the area to buy food, passing through the side streets, knowing that protests were ongoing in the main streets,” the DFA said in a statement.
Protesters were also on the side street where Pioquinto was and he started running when riot police began chasing the protesters.
He was accosted by the police in the belief that he was one of the protesters.
“The Consulate General is in close coordination with authorities and the Filipino’s lawyers to facilitate his release,” the DFA said.
Pioquinto is still undergoing investigation for “unlawful assembly.” The Consulate General, according to the DFA, “is making sure that his legal rights (and his assertions of innocence) are duly respected.”
The Philippine government reiterated its advice for Filipinos to stay alert and avoid areas of protest, and to refrain from wearing or carrying anything that could mistakenly identify them as part of the protest action.
“The Consulate General continues to monitor the situation in Hong Kong and is ready to provide assistance to Filipinos if needed,” it said.