The Philippines on Tuesday lifted a ban on nine Hong Kong journalists who allegedly shouted questions at President Benigno Aquino III last year, Agence France-Presse reported.
The journalists had also been expelled from an Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Indonesia last year after they aggressively questioned Aquino over a 2010 Manila hostage crisis that left eight Hong Kong residents dead.
Bureau of Immigration spokeswoman Elaine Tan said the ban was lifted because Aquino was not put through another bout of aggressive questioning at the APEC summit in Beijing earlier this month.
“After a re-evaluation, the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency said they [Hong Kong journalists] are no longer considered as threats and the ban was lifted effective today,” Tan was quoted as saying.
They had been placed on the bureau’s blacklist last June because they were considered a “threat to public safety” following “acts committed against the president” at the Bali summit, the report said.
However, the Philippine foreign affairs department later said it had not been consulted about the immigration ban and asked for a review.
The Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines had criticized the ban, saying it sent a “chilling message” to journalists.
“If the government’s intelligence agency does not like the way you ask questions, you may be labeled a public safety threat and blacklisted from the Philippines,” FOCAP said.
The journalists were blacklisted as the Philippines and Hong Kong were repairing strained ties, and ahead of the Philippines’ hosting of the APEC summit next year, the report said.
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