Filipino President makes move to improve relations with China

More than 2,000 members of the Filipino community in Hong Kong gathered in Kai Tak Cruise Terminal to meet the Filipino President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on the evening of April 12th, where he expressed his intentions on strengthening Filipino-Chinese relations and continuing to combat criminal activities.

"Just like my grandfather, we are of Chinese descent. In Hong Kong especially there is a lot of Chinese descent Filipinos, so this is part of destiny." said Duterte.

According to the Census and Statistics Department, there are around 222,000 Filipinos in Hong Kong, with more than 355 Filipino community organizations registered with the Philippine Consulate General, the ties run deep between the Philippines and Hong Kong.

"China has being very good to us. As a matter of fact, among other things amounting to billions, I got a grant of 500 million yuan (around $625 billion) which would be about 4 billion pesos." said Duterte.

He revealed that the grant from China will be used on hospitals and improving the situation in Marawi, an Islamic city in Mindanao province which was occupied by terrorists in 2017. After battling the terrorists and implementing martial law, the government besieged the city.

He assured the Filipinos in Hong Kong not to worry about their country because it is doing well, while he pledges to create more work opportunities for them so that they no longer have to become domestic helpers in the future, but professionals with careers.

He also made the first official apology over the Manila hostage incident in 2010 which caused eight people from Hong Kong to lose their lives, although the incident did not occur under his presidency.

"There has been no official apologies regarding the August 2010 incident. May I address myself to the Chinese people. From the bottom of my heart, in behalf of the people, may I apologise formally to you now. We are sorry the incident that happened and as humanly possible, I would like to make the guarantee it would never happen again," he said before the media and all members of the Filipino community.

He hopes that this apology will "assuage the feeling of the Chinese people and government".

"It is only right. Lives were lost under our jurisdiction. What is really needed is just to say we are very sorry, we apologise," he further stated.

Regarding criticism on his harsh crackdown on drugs, corruption and criminal activity, President Duterte made it clear that his position will not change.

"I said I am going to stop drug and corruption, and I am in the process of doing it. I am complying with my duty." he said, "I can assure you that corruption is now at its very minimum."

Despite the protests and accusations made by various human rights group against his strong-armed rule, Duterte received warm welcome from the Filipinos that were present. The crowd cheered his name with their fists high in the air in support of Duterte multiple times during his speech, while he received an overwhelming amount of positive comments from Filipinos in Hong Kong.

"Unlike Hong Kong where it is very safe, the drug problem in the Philippines was very bad. But because of Duterte, this problem is largely solved," said Alfredo Vinca, a retired engineer who worked and lived in Hong Kong for 28 years.

Marites Llagas Mapa, who works for an organisation call Lakbay Dangal which promotes Filipino culture in Hong Kong, also thinks that Duterte's policies will give Filipino children a brighter future, where there will be less drugs and more jobs available.

"I understand that some people have concerns regarding human rights, but I am with him on combating drug dealing." said Penny Salcedo, who is an award winning singer and also an on stage performer that evening, "I had family relatives who died and suffered due to drug use, and he is the only one so far to make progress on decreasing the prevalence of drugs."

She also thinks that it takes a lot of courage for a man in his position to publicly apologise, which really demonstrates his strength as a president.

"I am very confident that Filipino-Chinese relations will improve under his lead," said Salcedo ultimately.

While it is almost impossible to get a photo with the President himself, guests were more than willing to pose next to his cardboard cutouts.
Alfredo Vinca (left) and Ferdinand Sanchez (right) expressed support towards Duterte's tough stance against drugs.
Filipino citizens took to social media and technology by filming the event on Facebook live and sharing selfies.
Penny Salcedo, a Filipino singer who performed on stage, thinks that Duterte's apology towards China for the 2010 Manila hostage crisis showed his strength as a president.
Supporters of Duterte proudly holding their fists high, which represents his trademark salute.
Guests were entertained with several arts performances before Duterte's arrival.
Avid Duterte supporters chanted his name while awaiting his arrival.
Duterte arrives at Kai Tak Cruise Terminal approximately around 7pm, surprising his audience with a song performance.
Duterte delivered a 60-minute speech to over 2000 people. In his speech, he addressed his intentions to improve foreign relations with China and his stance against rampant drug problems in the nation.

《The Young Reporter》

The Young Reporter (TYR) is an English news publication produced by international journalism students at Hong Kong Baptist University. It started as a printed magazine in 1969. Today, TYR is produced across different platforms.

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