Hong Kong Won’t Delay Sanctions Against the Philippines
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Hong Kong Won’t Delay Sanctions Against the Philippines

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Hong Kong has no plans to delay economic sanctions against the Philippines, despite the destruction of Typhoon Haiyan, Filipino media reported on Tuesday, citing Hong Kong media outlets.

Last week, Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying announced plans to impose economic sanctions against the Philippines unless it met the demands of the victims of the 2010 Rizal Park hostage-taking incident within one month.

His call was answered by Hong Kong’s Legislative Council who last week passed a non-binding resolution calling for economic sanctions and an end visa-free entry into Hong Kong for Filipinos. Many Filipinos work in Hong Kong. The legislature is now considering passing a bill to implement economic sanctions.

According to Philippine news sources, which cited Hong Kong sources, on Tuesday Hong Kong announced that it does not plan to delay the sanctions on account of the super typhoon that has wrecked parts of the Philippines and left over 1,800 people dead.

Leung said of the sanctions: “We have been in contact with the Philippine government over the last couple of days and they have not raised the question of extending the deadline” by which the Philippine government must meet the demands of the Hong Kong victims.

One Hong Kong legislator dismissed the idea of delaying sanctions, arguing that there was no link between the recent storm and the 2010 bus incident.

“I wouldn’t agree to delaying the sanction. I think we should, on one hand, provide humanitarian relief to the best we can if that is being called for, but, on the other hand, the hostage incident is a matter of justice for the Hong Kong people and especially the victims,” said Fernando Cheung, a Hong Kong lawmaker.

Other lawmakers said that Hong Kong should stay in contact with the Philippines government to see if a delay was needed.

Earlier in the week it appeared that Hong Kong was going to delay the sanctions when a lawmaker shelved the bill to implement them.

The Manila hostage crisis occurred in the Philippine capital in 2010. A disgruntled Philippine police officer who had lost his job took a coach full of mostly Hong Kong residents hostage in a desperate attempt to win his job back. After an 8-hour standoff a gun fight ensued between police and the hostage taker, which left eight of the Hong Kong tourists dead and injured seven others. The shootout was broadcast live on TV and on the Internet.

In separate investigations both the Philippines government and the Hong Kong government identified the Philippine police’s handling of the situation as a factor that led to the deaths.

Hong Kong is demanding an apology from the Philippine President Benigno Aquino, compensation for survivors and the families of the deceased, and that the officials involved in trying to free the hostages are held accountable. Although the new mayor of the city of Manila apologized earlier this year — citing that it was Manila police under the mayor’s command who tried to free the hostage — Hong Kong has demanded that Aquino himself apologize.

The Philippine government has said it is quietly trying to resolve the issue with Hong Kong authorities behind the scenes.

Despite the threat of sanctions, Leung has said that all requests for aid relating to the typhoon will be processed according to “procedure and humanitarian policy.” He was also expected to ask the Legislative Council for US$5.1 million in assistance for the Philippines. This is considerably more than the US$200,000 China has said it will give to the Philippines and the Red Cross in the wake of the damage.

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