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Bishop tells Filipinos in Hong Kong to avoid protests

Bishop tells Filipinos in Hong Kong to avoid protests

A Catholic bishop in the Philippines has warned Filipinos in Hong Kong to stay away from demonstrations as pro-democracy protesters launch a city-wide strike this week.

Bishop Ruperto Santos, head of the Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People of the Philippine bishops’ conference, said it would be in the best interests of Filipinos not to take part in any gathering.

On Aug. 3, Hong Kong police arrested a Filipino migrant worker as he was passing an area where anti-government protesters had gathered.

The Filipino, who works at Hong Kong Disneyland, was making his way through the crowd of protesters at around 11 p.m. when the police ran after him.
Hong Kong Disneyland lawyers are currently working on the man’s release from police custody.

Over the past two months, mass protests have engulfed Hong Kong, where opposition to a proposed law allowing extraditions to China has led to a wider movement calling for democratic reforms.

The protests have since become violent, with riot police clashing with pro-democracy demonstrators.

Bishop Santos said Filipino migrant workers in Hong Kong are not participating in the rallies because they know it would jeopardize their work.

“They went with the sole intention of working to improve the lives of their loved ones, and they are observant of the laws and customs of Hong Kong,” said the prelate.

Philippine Consul General to Hong Kong Germinia Aguilar-Usudan said it was unfortunate that a Filipino has been arrested for alleged involvement in the protests.

“He said he was on his way to get some food and unfortunately he was wearing black but was not part of the rally,” Usudan said in a television interview.

She advised Philippine nationals in Hong Kong to avoid areas where rallies are being held and to avoid wearing black or white shirts.

On Saturday, thousands of protesters wearing black marched in Mong Kok, a shopping area in Hong Kong. They erected barricades and blocked a major tunnel.

Several flights between Manila and Hong Kong were canceled on Aug. 5 amid the escalating tensions.