Nov 072013
Hong Kong lawmakers voted this week to impose economic sanctions on the Philippines and cancel the visa-free access for Filipinos due to the Manila bus hostage crisis three years ago, South China Morning Post reported.

The report said lawmakers voted to pass a non-binding motion by People Power’s Albert Chan Wai-yip calling on the government to impose sanctions. 

They also voted 41 to three in favor of former security chief Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee’s amendment calling for visa-free access to be scrapped, the report added.

More than 100,000 Filipino domestic helpers are working in Hong Kong. Hong Kong tourists, meanwhile, are among the top ten tourist groups arriving in the Philippines with 86,396 arrivals from January to August this year.

Sought for comment, Foreign Affairs spokesperson Raul Hernandez neither confirmed nor denied the imposition of sanctions but said the government will continue to work to address the issue.

“We will continue to work quietly to achieve a mutually satisfactory conclusion,” Hernandez said in a text message sent Friday to GMA News Online.

Last Tuesday, Hong Kong leader Leung Chun-ying said the government may impose unspecified economic sanctions on the Philippines if Manila will not apologize and grant compensation for a hostage tragedy in 2010, Reuters reported.

The Hong Kong government has been demanding for an apology–from the Philippine government and not the Manila City government– and compensation to the victims’ families. 

Last month, former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada, now Manila mayor, personally delivered a written apology to the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and families of the victims.
In August 2010, dismissed police officer Rolando Mendoza seized a tourist bus with 25 Hong Kong nationals at the Quirino Grandstand, wherein eight hostages, all from Hong Kong, were killed in a botched rescue attempt. —KG/RSJ, GMA News

Oct 142013
Filipino Muslims offer morning prayers to mark Eid'l Adha

Muslim Filipinos gathered in public places early Tuesday to offer morning prayers to mark Eid’l Adha (Feast of Sacrifice). In Manila, some 20,000 Muslims gathered at the Quirino Grandstand to take part in morning prayers, radio dzBB’s Carlo Mateo reported. Morning prayers were offered as well at the Golden Mosque in Quiapo, the report said. In Quezon City, dzBB’s Allan Gatus reported Muslim families gathered at the Quezon Memorial Circle also to offer prayers.  Eid’l Adha is a Muslim celebration that honors the willingness of Ibrahim to obey Allah and sacrifice his son Isaac. It also marks the end of the hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca. —KG, GMA News

Sep 082013
Cardinal Tagle calls on Pinoys to act against corruption, change the system

With the interfaith vigil against the pork-barrel system, called “EDSA Tayo”, just a few days away, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle over the weekend sought more converts to the burgeoning anti-graft movement as he urged Filipinos to act against corruption. “We, individuals, should strive to change this system,” said Tagle during the monthly Manila Archdiocesan General Pastoral Assembly (MAGPAS) at Paco Catholic School. “Let us refuse. We should not comply or agree with practices that are not keeping God’s will and the laws of the land.” Tagle added Filipinos have a choice: to go along with those who perpetrate corruption, or to express opposition against it. “Even if we say that corrupt practices are widely accepted in various government offices, we all have the freedom to choose. The political community and our personal families might have greatly influenced us, but we should always remember that we are free to make a choice.” Tagle recently, and very openly, expressed his views on corruption. Specifically, he has been critical of the pork barrel system, in which lawmakers allegedly scammed billions of pesos from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). A few weeks ago, the cardinal shed tears as he spoke about the “heartbreaking” scam in a press conference at the University of Santo Tomas. Last month, the cardinal surprised protesters in the so-called Million People March by showing up at the Quirino Grandstand, where he characterized Filipinos as a “people of honor.” Also during Tagle’s talk during the pastoral assembly, the Read More …