24 November 2014
Dear President Aquino,
We are writing to express, in the strongest terms, our concern over the blacklisting of Hong Kong journalists from entering Philippines.
On 20 November 2014, your immigration officers denied entry to Mr. Eric Lee Kwok-keung, who is a Now TV cameraman, upon his arrival at Manila via Philippine Air Lines Flight PR 301.
Immigration officials showed him a letter which said: “Acting on the 29 May this year. Letter of Ager P. Ontog, Jr., Director General, National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, Office of the President, requesting that the above-named subjects be prevented from entering the country to cover the APEC Summit next year for heckling of President Benigno S. Aquino III during the latter’s visit to Bali, Indonesia during the October last year CEO Summit.”
“Thus, we hereby include the above-named subjects in the Bureau’s Black List with remarks: ‘Undesirability’.”
Eight other journalists involved in the above mentioned incident are also subject to the same treatment, according to the letter.
Such a blacklist, if exists, is a serious contravention of the International Declaration of Human Rights and a blemish on the reputation of Philippines as a democratic nation.
As we have stated in our earlier letter to you, the journalists were carrying out their duties in asking for your comments on the Manila hostage killings. None of their behaviour could possibly justify their classification as a security threat to you or your country.
Given the significance of the matter, we are writing to seek your clarification on whether your government has indeed imposed an official ban on the above mentioned journalists from entering Philippines. If such an official ban exists, we would like to know on what basis journalists become classified as undesirable elements merely for asking a state leader questions.
This question is of utmost importance as the Philippines is due soon to host the APEC meeting and journalists from Hong Kong and other parts of the world will be flocking to Manila to do precisely that — ask questions of state leaders.
To arrest further damage to the reputation of your country, we request that any blacklist of Hong Kong journalists be repudiated without delay.
Thank you for your kind attention.
Hong Kong Journalists Association