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Philippines reviews blacklisting of Hong Kong journalists

November 24, 2014

The Philippines will review its entry ban on nine Hong Kong journalists who shouted questions at President Benigno Aquino during a summit in Indonesia last year, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said Monday.

Journalist groups have expressed concern at the blacklisting, which threatens to sour ties that Hong Kong and the Philippines have been trying to repair since eight Hong Kong tourists were killed in Manila in 2010.

“The journalists’ issue will be reviewed,” del Rosario told AFP, when asked if Manila would reconsider the ban.

The reporters had their credentials withdrawn after they shouted questions at the Philippine leader during an APEC summit in Indonesia last year, and are currently unable to enter the Philippines for any reason.

They were blacklisted over “acts committed against the president during a summit in Bali, Indonesia”, Bureau of Immigration spokeswoman Elaine Tan said on Saturday without naming the nine.

Quoting intelligence officials, Tan said the journalists were a “threat to public safety”.

The Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines said the blacklisting sent a “chilling message”.

“If the government’s intelligence agency does not like the way you ask questions, you may be labelled a public safety threat and blacklisted from the Philippines,” the group said.

Hong Kong newspapers reported that nine journalists from Now TV, RTHK and Commercial Radio have been banned ahead of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit to be hosted by the Philippines next year.

But Philippine Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said his office has not started the accreditation process for journalists covering next year’s APEC summit.

Coloma reiterated that any blacklist could be reconsidered since there had been no repeat of the incident during the recent APEC summit in Beijing.

Relations between the Philippines and Hong Kong were strained for years after Hong Kong tourists held hostage by a rogue Filipino policeman in Manila were killed in a botched rescue attempt.

The two governments announced in April that they had resolved the bitter row.

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.