By Mario Casayuran
Senators on Wednesday slammed China for barring former Associate Justice and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales entry into Hong Kong, a special administrative region (SAR) of China, last Tuesday.
Senator Richard J, Gordon, chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee, described China’s actuation as ‘’boorish.’’
‘’It is a clear warning and an obvious shot in the bow to all Filipinos who may be critical of China’s actuations in the West Philippine Sea (WPS),’’ Gordon said.
Opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros said the act was a clear act of intimidation and retaliation against Morales who, along with former Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Albert del Rosario, filed charges against the Chinese government before the International Criminal Court (ICC) regarding its alleged crimes against humanity in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
‘’If they (Carpio-Morales and del Rosario) had more tomorrows than yesterdays, imagine how much more they could accomplish for our country,’’ Senator Panfilo M. Lacson said.
Gordon said the Philippines and China need to reexamine and re-evaluate the importance of respecting each other.
‘’An arrogant and disrespectful China and an ever conciliatory and appeasing attitude from our side will not help for a sincere and successful friendship,’’ he explained.
Because of this, Hontiveros challenged President Rodrigo Duterte to protest the Chinese government’s four-hour holding of Conchita Carpio-Morales at an airport in Hong Kong last Tuesday.
“I challenge President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration to defend one of the country’s most accomplished public servants and bring this directly to the Chinese government, lest it be accused of siding with China against one of our country’s own citizens,” Hontiveros said.
Hontiveros said that the Chinese government’s denial of entry to former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales was “ludicrous.”
“Bullying a 78-year-old former public servant who is known for her sterling public service record is ludicrous. I call on the Chinese government to explain why it held for four hours without any explanation a former high-ranking Philippine government official and a senior citizen who simply went to Hong Kong with her grandchildren to have a vacation,” she stressed.
Hontiveros said that the Chinese government’s action against Morales, whom she said is leading the fight in holding China accountable for the massive environmental damage it has caused and continues to cause in the West Philippine Sea, clearly shows that its intentions are far from friendly.
The lady lawmaker expressed fears that without a strong and definitive stand from the Philippine government, the incident could happen again to other Filipino citizens critical of China’s incursions in the West Philippine Sea.
“The Duterte government must see to it that our citizens are not intimidated and shabbily treated by foreign governments for simply voicing out their opposition to our neighbor-states’ actions that tend to undermine our sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Hontiveros said.
Senator Francis N. Pangilinan, outgoing president of the opposition Liberal Party (LP), said ‘’this is clearly in retaliation for her courageous act of bringing China to Court. Knowing the former Ombudsman, this will not deter her from pursuing the case and as such the act of deporting her will only further strengthen her resolve,’’
‘’It has also exposed China’s resolve to go after those who oppose and refuse to accept their illegal acts committed in the West Philippine Sea (WPS),’’ he added.