Hong Kong church leaders call for tolerance towards Filipinos after Manila hostage deaths

HONG KONG - Church leaders have appealed for tolerance towards Filipino migrant workers in Hong Kong after the Manila hostage siege.

Eight Hong Kong tourists were killed in the Philippines by armed former police officer, Rolando Mendoza, when he hijacked their tour bus last week and demanded to be given his job back. The siege ended when police shot Mendoza dead.

In Hong Kong, the story dominated the front pages of newspapers for five consecutive days, with the Administration demanding a thorough investigation.

There have since been reports of aggressive behaviour towards Filipino migrants in Hong Kong and church leaders fear their safety may be compromised.

“We received calls from the Filipino domestic workers here who said that they are under psychological pressure,” said Eman Villanueva, spokesperson of United Filipinos in Hong Kong said at a press conference.

He said that there was a migrant worker who had been fired after the hostage incident, and some more suspected cases. He disclosed that some Filipinos had encountered unfriendly conversations when they went out.

“The media in the Philippines had also reported these hostile behaviors, some workers had temporarily suspended their plan to Hong Kong,” he said.

There have been uncofirmed reports that a Filipino migrant working in Hong Kong was killed in a revenge act. Eman said no Filipinos had been killed in the wake of the hostage crisis.

The Anglican Primate of Hong Kong, Archbishop Paul Kwong, urged the faithful to pray for the souls of the victims and Rolando Mendoza. He told people not to allow anger to overshadow reason, and asked all Anglican churches in Hong Kong to pray yesterday.

The Hong Kong Christian Council had asked churches in Hong Kong to pray for victims, and for the reconciliation and mutual understanding between the peoples in Hong Kong and the Philippines.

“It was a heartbreaking moment for Hong Kong people who witnessed the incident through the live-telecasting,” said Rev Po Kam Cheong, General Secretary of the ecumenical Christian Council.

He invited all churches in Hong Kong to pray for the victims, as well as a fair attitude towards the Filipino workers in the city.

Regarding those hostile wordings in the social-networking media targeting Filipinos, the pastor encouraged Christians be the peacemakers and to stop the negative emotions, preventing the incident to deteriorate into the hatred between the two countries.

Hong Kong Catholic Bishop John Tong shared the same view. He asked Hong Kong people to treat the Filipinos in a fair and reasonable manner at a mass August 26.

Meanwhile, some 1,000 Christians attended a vigil prayer meeting August 28 to mourn the deceased, and many more religious memorial activities were arranged for yesterday.

And there were 80,000 Hong Kong people took street and mourned for the dead

There are some 200,000 Filipino migrant workers in Hong Kong, with majority of them serve as live-in domestic helpers.