Philippines blacklists nine Hong Kong journalists for heckling Aquino

Manila (Reuters) - The Philippines has barred entry to nine Hong Kong television and radio journalists, saying they heckled President Benigno Aquino during a meeting of the APEC grouping last year and presented a threat to public safety.

The National Intelligence Coordinating Agency recommended the ban last June because the journalists were disrespectful of the president, said Elaine Tan, a spokeswoman of the Bureau of Immigration.

“A blacklist order (has been issued) against the identified foreign nationals,” Tan said in a statement on Saturday.

“One of the grounds, anchored on the interest of public safety, is when a foreign national shows disrespect or makes offensive utterances to symbols of Philippine authority.”

The journalists had questioned Aquino aggressively about whether he had met Hong Kong leaders over the deaths of eight visitors from the former British colony in a 2010 bus siege in the Philippine capital, Tan said.

The tourists were killed by a former police officer who commandeered the bus they were traveling in.

Tan said the journalists can contest the ruling, but they had not been informed of the ban. The statement did not identify the journalists or their employers.

Reporting by Manuel Mogato; Editing by Clarence Fernandez