Hong Kong International Airport. Photo: iStock

A former Ombudsman from the Philippines who has previously clashed with China was barred from entering Hong Kong and had to return to Manila.

Conchita Carpio-Morales was held at Hong Kong International Airport on Tuesday when she arrived with her family after 11am. When they arrived, Morales was separated by Hong Kong immigration officials, GMA News reported.

Morales was then asked to return to Manila. The former Ombudsman may have been put on a blacklist after filing a case against President Xi Jinping in the International Criminal Court in March.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin said later that Morales was eventually allowed to enter Hong Kong but chose to return home along with her family.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said “only China would know” why Morales was barred from entering Hong Kong.

“Only the Chinese government know who is a security risk. We would be incompetent to determine that,” Panelo said.

Maritime dispute

In March, Morales, along with former foreign affairs secretary Albert del Rosario, filed a case against President Xi over China’s perceived maritime violations in the West Philippine Sea.

Panelo said they were unsure whether the move to stop Morales entering Hong Kong was retaliation for her legal action against the Chinese government over the maritime dispute.

Del Rosario accused the Chinese government of more “bullying and harassment”. “One of the reasons we had filed our case in the ICC is to be able to push back against the bullying and harassment that we have been encountering from our Goliath of a neighbor,” he said.

“Today, with the holding of former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales by immigration authorities in Hong Kong as a security risk presumably due to the ICC case that we had filed, we are experiencing more of the same.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs assisted Morales and her family, who returned to Manila on Tuesday evening.

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