Concerned Filipinos warned those working in Hong Kong after one of them got arrested for alleged involvement in the protests there.
Hong Kong police reportedly arrested two foreigners, one Filipino and one South Korean, during a clearing operation in Mong Kok, a shopping area in Hong Kong.
The Filipino, who refused to be identified out of concern for his mother, happened to be wearing a black shirt similar to the protesters who were staging a demonstration that time.
According to South China Morning Post, the man was a long-time parade dancer at Hong Kong Disneyland while the man from South Korea was a restaurant employee.
Despite wearing a similar shirt, the OFW was not part of the democratic reforms movement, Deputy Philippine Consul General in Hong Kong Germinia Aguilar-Usudan said, and was only on his way to get food.
“He said he was on his way to get some food last night and unfortunately he was wearing black and he’s not part of the rally,” Usudan said.
So far, no charges yet were filed against the OFW who was being assisted pro bono by two Hong Kong lawyers.
Both suspects are currently detained at the North Point Police Station. They were among the 24 men and five women arrested due to an assembly in the district.
Authorities stated that this was the first time foreigners or expatriates were arrested since the movement started in June.
Following this supposed mistaken arrest, the Department of Foreign Affairs strongly advised Filipinos who are traveling to Hong Kong or are already in the place to avoid venues where the rallies are being held.
“The Department encourages the public to monitor the pronouncements of the Hong Kong government and to heed the advice and instructions of local authorities,” the DFA said.
“The public is encouraged as well to monitor developments and in doing so, to rely on legitimate media entities and news sources, and to be discerning with respect to information obtained through social media,” the agency added.
In light of the ongoing mass protests in HK, the DFA strongly advises Filipinos in or travelling to HK to avoid areas where such protests are being held, and to monitor pronouncements of the HK authorities. pic.twitter.com/wRz2yWSekO
— DFA Philippines (@DFAPHL) July 30, 2019
Usudan also warned against wearing black or white tops in public. These are the same colors that protesters wear.
“Kung maaari, huwag na silang magsuot ng itim o puti na pang-itaas kasi ito ang kulay na ginagamit ng mga raliyista. Kapag sila ay mahalo doon, hindi sila masama sa aresto,” she said.
Some Filipinos also expressed their worries online about their compatriots in the semiautonomous territory.
If you're visiting the country, avoid wearing black and avoid the areas where they do demonstrations. Usually weekends ang rallies and for the first time, they scheduled a rally this coming Monday. Stay informed and stay safe 🙏🏻https://t.co/RtY8uHePm5
— 𝚋𝚎𝚛𝚛𝚢𝚍𝚞𝚌𝚑𝚎𝚜𝚜 (@berryduchess) August 4, 2019
The massive protests in Hong Kong which started against the controversial extradition bill last June soon led to violent confrontations with the police. The protests eventually became a larger, pro-democracy movement against mainland China.
Anti-government protesters planned to bring the entire city into a halt on August 5 by blocking major roads, spray-painting traffic lights and starting fires.
Following these events, the Hong Kong government perceived that the events are on their way to an “extremely dangerous edge.”
Last July 25, videos and pictures of Hong Kong residents being attacked by a group of men using sticks and metal bars made rounds on the micro-blogging platform.
The first demonstrations when over two million Hong Kong residents attended were considered one of the largest in history as they called for a loosened grasp by Beijing and resignation of Chief Executive Carrie Lam.