The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) welcoming the decision by the Philippine government to lift the ban on nine Hong Kong journalists, who were banned from entering the country a week ago.
Eric Lee Kwok-Keung, a Hong Kong-based Now TV cameraman, was prevented from entering Philippines on November 20 and had to return to Hong Kong. He later received a letter from Philippine Airlines stating that eight Hong Kong journalists, as well as Lee, would be banned from entering the country to cover the APEC summit in Manila next year. The media outlets affected, Now Television, Commercial Radio and Hong Kong Radio Television, immediately protested. The ban appears to have been imposed because the President of the Philippines, Benigno Acquino III, was allegedly heckled by Hong Kong journalists at the APEC summit in Bali in 2013.
HKJA criticized the action as “very unwise and uncivilized” and said it was apparently an act of retaliation. HKJA members protested outside the Philippines Consulate in Hong Kong on Monday November 24. The Consul General accepted the HKJA petition and admitted that there were loopholes in her government’s policy, which she said the government was reviewing.
The IFJ Asia-Pacific Office said: “This move of the Foreign Ministry of Philippines after the President of Philippines was allegedly ‘heckled’ by Hong Kong journalists at the APEC Summit in Bali last year is ridiculous. It clearly illustrates that the Philippines authorities do not really understand the principle of press freedom.
“We welcome the decision by the Philippines to remove the nine Hong Kong journalists from the blacklist yesterday. But we emphasize that any moves that prevent the media from carrying out their duties is unacceptable.”
We urge the Board of APEC to remind their member states to respect and uphold press freedom. Any kind of blockage of press freedom is totally unacceptable.
In 2013, nine Hong Kong journalists and camera operators allegedly heckled the President of Philippines during the APEC summit. The journalists were demanding his response to a car hijack in Manila in 2010, in which eight Hong Kong people were killed.
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