MANILA, Philippines — The University of the Philippines Law Alumni Association said the detention of former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, their alumna, at the Hong Kong International Airport last week reflects China’s “strong-arming.”
In a statement Tuesday, the UPLAA said that what happened with Morales, who is also a retired Supreme Court justice, “is a cause of grave alarm for our nation and every Filipino.”
“The detention of Ombudsman Carpio-Morales bares another act of strong-arming by China in its slow and creeping invasion of Philippine sovereign maritime zones recognized by an International Tribunal constituted under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea,” the statement read.
Morales and her family returned to Manila late Tuesday, May 21, after she was turned away by Hong Kong immigration officials upon their arrival before noon that day. She said she was treated well but also said she did not accept any food from immigration authorities, only bottled water.
Morales said that she was only told she is barred from entering Hong Kong, a Special Administrative Region of China, due to “immigration reasons.” She was later allowed to enter Hong Kong, but she and her family opted to turn back to the Philippines.
Upon returning to Manila, Morales said her being blocked from entry into Hong Kong, where she and her family were supposed to go on vacation, was bullying by China but also acknowledged that “a country has its own rules.”
Morales and former top diplomat Albert del Rosario called the attention of the International Criminal Court to Beijing’s massive island-building activities in the South China Sea.
Morales and Del Rosario submitted a communication to ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda on behalf of Filipino fishermen “persecuted and injured” by Chinese officials.
The UPLAA added: “The UP Law Alumni Association sounds a clarion call for vigilance and patriotism to support [Morales] and encourage our government to be more proactive in defending the rights of our sovereign nation and every Filipino from unwarranted intrusions.”
Morales, for her part, said that the action from Hong Kong immigration officials only fuelled her resolve to urge the ICC to act on their communication.
“As I said a while ago, it keeps us more resolved to pursue the case to bring the level of the case to crescendo. We will fight for examination,” she said.