MANILA (Mabuhay) – Malacañang on Saturday advised Filipinos traveling to Hong Kong to be vigilant following a clash between pro-democracy protesters and anti-protester groups.
After days of protests by demonstrators moving to occupy large swaths of the city in their call for full free elections, the Philippine government still has to issue a formal travel advisory.
“To everyone going there, please be aware of your surroundings, especially because there are some protests in tourist spots,” Palace spokeswoman Abigail Valte said over government-run dzRB radio. “Be mindful of your surroundings.”
On Friday, tension grew in two of the city’s shopping districts, after anti-protester groups dismantled barricades and faced off with the demonstrators. They were separated by the police.
The demonstrators, known as Occupy Central, had set a Thursday midnight ultimatum for Chief Executive Leung Chunying to resign, and for Beijing to drop proposals that it vet candidates aspiring for the chief executive’s post in 2017.
The demonstrators are demanding open nominations, instead of a process wherein mostly pro-Beijing panel will screen candidates for the territory’s first election to choose its leader in 2017.
Valte reiterated the Philippine foreign office’s appeal to Filipinos to avoid the protests.
“As our consul general has said, they continue to appeal to our countrymen to avoid the protests for their own safety,” she said.
So far, Filipinos who have joined the protests were permanent residents, and the Philippine consulate was open for any kind of assistance, Valte said.
Valte said Filipinos, whether they’re protesting or not, should be guided by laws of the territory.
“We always remind them to stay away from acts that might get them into trouble with the law or with the authorities there. I understand that others have taken part peacefully, and again, they should use their best judgment when it comes to joining protests like this one especially when it comes to their safety,” she said. (MNS)