An expat has become the first Filipino to be arrested in the recent string of rallies in Hong Kong, allegedly all because he was wearing black while passing through a protest area in Kowloon on Saturday night.
The Filipino man who requested to stay anonymous as he is concerned about his mother’s health works as a dancer in Hong Kong Disneyland, Deputy Philippine Consul General in Hong Kong Germinia Aguilar-Usudan told Dateline Philippines yesterday.
According to Aguilar-Usudan, the Filipino lives alone in a flat in Mong Kok and was just passing through a protest area while wearing a black shirt. In his statement, the Filipino said that he was on the way to buy food in the popular shopping district when he was nabbed by authorities at around 11pm.
“He said he’s on his way to get some food last night and unfortunately he was wearing black and he’s not part of the rally,” Aguilar-Usudan said.
The expat was detained at the North Point Police Station and later went through a routine checkup where he was joined by officers from the Philippine Consulate General in Hong Kong.
The Philippine Consulate General has coordinated with the police in Hong Kong and at least two pro-bono Hong Kong lawyers are assisting the arrested Filipino. The case is still under investigation and no charges have been filed against the Filipino yet.
“This is the first time it happened, no Filipino has been arrested before ever since the rallies on the extradition bill has (sic) started,” Aguilar-Usudan said.
The Philippine Consulate has issued multiple advisories since protests against a controversial Hong Kong bill that would allow extraditions to mainland China started in April. It reiterated this in an advisory posted yesterday that warned against planned protests today. Filipinos in Hong Kong were told to avoid seven rally areas and to not wear black or white clothing.
The string of rallies — which often end in violent clashes, with police officers firing tear gas and protesters hurling projectiles — kicked off in earnest two months ago. At one point, more than two million people were said to have joined the biggest demonstration since Hong Kong’s return to Chinese rule in 1997.
This moved Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam to put a “pause” on their work on the bill, but pro-democracy protests continue.
This included rallies in several locations over the weekend, like the one in Mong Kok were the Filipino was arrested. Organizers have also planned more city-wide strikes today in an attempt to keep up pressure on the govnernment.
Several flights between Hong Kong and Manila today have been canceled due to the protests, but Aguilar-Usudan said yesterday that Hong Kong is still relatively safe for tourists. “We do not see any problem or danger for tourists in Hong Kong,” she said.
More than 100,000 Filipinos work in Hong Kong. It is also a popular tourist destination for Filipinos.