MANILA (Mabuhay) – The Philippines will maintain open lines of communication with Hong Kong in the wake of visa requirements the Hong Kong government imposed on holders of red and blue (official) Philippine passports, Malacañang said Saturday.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the Philippine government is always ready to resolve the issue through dialogue.
“Siguro nakita ninyo sa ating pahayag sa nakaraang araw, we take it as it is. Pinapakita natin na patuloy ang ating pagiging bukas (You have seen in past days that the Philippine government has kept communication lines open),” she said on state-run dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.
She also said there have been “consultations” ongoing on the matter.
The Hong Kong government earlier implemented further sanctions against the Philippines by requiring visas for holders of Philippine official and diplomatic passport holders. Such passports are used on official travel.
The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs had said the Philippine government “regrets” such an act, which it also branded as “unfortunate.”
It added the Philippines “remains committed to manifest compassion for the victims and their families and is ready to turn over the additional tokens of solidarity from the Filipino people.”
Hong Kong’s action stemmed from its repeated demands for an apology from the Philippine government over the death of eight Hong Kong tourists in a hostage crisis in 2010.
Earlier, the DFA described as “unfortunate” Hong Kong’s decision to scrap the visa-free arrangements for visiting Philippine diplomats and officials but reiterated that the Philippines will not apologize for the 2010 Manila hostage crisis.
The DFA said the country has been doing its best to put closure to the 2010 Manila bus hostage crisis. However, it said it will not apologize for the incident, which led to the deaths of several Hong Kong nationals.
“The Philippine government regrets the Hong Kong-SAR’s implementation of sanctions against the Philippines, particularly the requirement of visas usually given to Philippine officials…” Foreign Affairs Spokesman Raul Hernandez said.
“The sanction is unfortunate because a substantive closure on the Quirino Grandstand had already been arrived at three years ago with the previous Hong Kong-SAR, the victims and their families,” he added.
Hernandez said the government responded immediately to an “appeal for compassion” sent last October.
“Additional tokens of solidarity have been pledged by the Filipino people at the behest of the Philippine government. These amounts being offered are substantially more than those previously accepted by the victims and their families,” he said.
He said the government was made to understand that the victims have already agreed to such “tokens.”