HONG KONG – From February 5, officials and diplomats from the Philippines visiting Hong Kong will not be able to enjoy the 14 day visa-free exemption they currently do, Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying told a press conference yesterday. The move is in response by Hong Kong to a tragedy in Manila over three years ago, when eight Hong Kong tourists were killed and seven others injured in a hostage situation that lasted over 10 hours. The Philippines’ President Benigno Aquino III has consistently refused to make an official apology for what he sees as the actions of a lone gunman, leading to tension between Hong Kong and the Philippines.
In August 2010, after senior police inspector Rolando Mendoza had been dismissed from the Manila Police District, he boarded a tourist bus armed with an assault rifle, in an attempt to get reinstated. The rescue attempt lasted over an hour, and ended after Mendoza was shot and killed. Hong Kong has alleged that it was the poor handling of the incident by the Philippines’ officials that led to the victims’ deaths. The Hong Kong government placed a black travel advisory warning (the highest warning level) on the Philippines, cautioning Hong Kong residents that the country posed a “severe threat” and advising that all travel be avoided. Continue reading