Philippines calls for calm in Hong Kong over bloodbath

MANILA, Aug 24, 2010 (AFP) - The Philippine government appealed to Hong Kong residents on Tuesday not to vent their anger over a deadly hostage crisis on the large Filipino community working in the Chinese territory.

Aides of President Benigno Aquino also said a "high-level delegation" would be sent to Hong Kong soon to explain how Monday's hijack crisis in Manila resulted in the deaths of eight Hong Kong tourists.

"We're concerned that... because of the public anger in Hong Kong over what happened, there will be threats against Filipinos living and working there," said presidential spokesman Ricky Carandang.

Carandang told reporters there were already "anecdotal" reports about retaliatory actions against Filipinos, such as one case where a maid was allegedly fired by her Hong Kong employer over the hostage incident.

An unidentified Hong Kong police officer walks past the tourist bus after inspecting the site in Manila on August 24, 2010, a day after the bloody assault. AFP

"We understand the anger and the dismay over the people of Hong Kong but at the same time, we don't think it's right that our ordinary citizens who had nothing to do with this should be paying the price," he said.

But Carandang said there were no verified reports of actual physical threats against Filipinos.

Dolores Balladares, chairperson of the United Filipinos in Hong Kong, said they had heard a similar story about the sacking of a Filipino maid and were trying to verify it.

Balladares said they were concerned that Hong Kong's growing outrage towards the Philippine government would affect the livelihood of the 150,000 Filipinos most of whom work as domestic helpers in the financial hub.

"I hope there will be no backlash against the Filipino community in Hong Kong. No one wanted this tragedy," she told AFP.

"We are worried that it will indeed be the case that some employers here will fire their maids because of the incident. But we can't control the feelings of the employers."

She said the city's Filipino groups would hold a press conference Wednesday morning to express their concern over the tension and pass their condolences to the victims of the hostage crisis.

A steady stream of protesters organised by political and civic groups marched to Hong Kong's Philippine consulate -- where police numbers were stepped up -- to express their anger over Monday's events.

Some of the protesters lost control and fell into tears.

"The president has already given and issued instructions for a formal inquiry into the event," Claro Cristobal, the Philippines' consul general in Hong Kong, was quoted as saying by local radio.

"We are expressing our deepest solidarity particularly with the families of the victims and the victims themselves and we share the feeling of the Hong Kong people and Hong Kong government in revulsion that such an event has taken place."

Aquino will meet China's ambassador to the Philippines on Tuesday and speak to Hong Kong's Chief Executive Donald Tsang on the telephone to explain what happened, according to Carandang.

Tsang demanded on Tuesday that Philippine authorities provide a detailed account of the siege and urged all Hong Kong tour groups in the Philippines to return home.

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