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Hong Kong to cancel visa-free entry for PHL officials, diplomats

January 29, 2014 7:22pm
(Updated 7:32 p.m.) Hong Kong will cancel visa-free entry to the territory for Philippine official and diplomatic passport holders starting February 5 as part of its sanctions against the Philippines in connection with the 2010 Manila hostage crisis.

Diplomats have long been accustomed to special privileges in other countries. The opposite now seems true for Filipino diplomats in Hong Kong.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying announced the sanctions during a press conference on Wednesday, according to a report from South China Morning Post.

At present, Filipino holders of official and diplomatic passports enjoy a 14-day visa free status when visiting Hong Kong.

However, Philippine consular officials were quick to assure ordinary Filipino travelers that holders of "regular" green and maroon passports are not affected by Hong Kong's suspension of the 14-day visa-free arrangement with the Philippines.
 
The assurance came early Thursday from the Philippine Consulate General in Hong Kong, which said the sanction covers only holders of diplomatic and official passpoorts.
 
"Regular passport holders (green and maroon) are not affected. Mga kababayan, HINDI po kayo apektado sa policy na ito kung ang passport ninyo ay green o maroon (You are not affected by the policy if your passport is green or maroon)," it said on its Facebook page.
 
It noted the suspension that takes effect Feb. 5 "will only be applicable to diplomatic (blue passport) or official (red passport) holders."

The report said negotiations between the two countries broke down on Tuesday after the Philippine government gave a “negative message” to Hong Kong.

It said the Philippine government did not grant the request of the families of the victims in the hostage-taking incident for a formal apology.

In August 2010, dismissed police officer Rolando Mendoza seized a tourist bus and held hostage 25 Hong Kong nationals at the Quirino Grandstand. Eight of the hostages, as well as Mendoza, were killed during the rescue attempt by Manila police.

Visa-free access to 58 countries

In the October 2013 global index of international residence and citizenship planning company revealed that Filipino citizens have visa-free access to only 58 countries out of 218 countries, a far cry from the United Kingdom, Finland and Sweden, whose citizens can visit 173 countries without a visa.

The Philippines occupies the 69th place in the 2013 Visa Restrictions Index by Henley & Partners, which ranked countries according to the number of nations their citizens can access with just a passport. Andrei Medina/KBK/HS/LBG, GMA News




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