On 29 January 2014, two days before the Chinese New Year, Hong Kong leader Leung Chun-ying announced that Hong Kong authorities have decided to suspend visa-free travel for Filipinos to HongKong. He added that the decision is limited to Filipino officials holding diplomatic and official passports. This move is meant to punish Philippine authorities for refusing to issue a formal apology for the Quirino Grandstand massacre.
The more significant portion of the imposed sanction is what has not been imposed — the original threat to require ALL Filipinos, government officials and private citizens alike, to secure a visa when visiting HongKong (right now, no visa needed for a 14-day visit). Why? Your guess is as good as mine (use the comment section below; and feel free to discuss if the response of the Philippine government is ok).
The next day, January 30, the Philippine government, through the Department of Foreign Affairs, issued a statement “regretting” the Hong Kong visa sanctions against the Philippines, but staying firm that it has done more than enough to address the problem. It’s too much to have the President issue a public apology. Here’s the full text of the statement:
The Philippine Government regrets the Hong Kong SAR Government’s implementation of sanctions against the Philippines, particularly, the requirement of visas for Philippine official and diplomatic passport holders which is usually given to government officials on official travel to Hong Kong. The sanction is unfortunate because a substantive closure on the Quirino Grandstand Incident had already been arrived at three years ago with the previous Hong Kong SAR Government and the victims as well as their families.
A renewed appeal for compassion was directly made to our government last October 2013. We responded to this appeal without equivocation and in a most generous manner. Additional tokens of solidarity have therefore been pledged by the Filipino people at the behest of the Philippine government. These amounts that are being offered are substantially more than those that have been previously accepted by the victims and their families. We have been made to understand that the victims and their families have agreed to this offer.
In response to this generous offering, a total renegotiation has been opened by the Hong Kong SAR Government to seek a demand for an apology which the Philippines, as a sovereign nation, is not prepared to consider. Our Nation has already expressed its deepest regret and condolences over the incident and we are preparing to reiterate this.
To bring the issue to its final conclusion, the Philippines remains committed to manifest compassion for the victims and their families and is ready to turn over the additional tokens of solidarity from the Filipino people. We hope that we will be able to do this as soon as possible.
We would like to assure the Filipino people that the Philippine Government has done its utmost best to address the Quirino Grandstand Issue.