Hong Kong

MANILA – More than 12,000 Filipino workers are returning to Hong Kong in the coming months, Consul General Raly Tejada revealed Wednesday.

Of this number, more than 7,000 are newly-hired while around 4,755 have been previously terminated and are returning after securing new employers.

“Sa kabuuan, mga 12,662 na overseas Filipino workers ang babalik ng Hong Kong nitong summer para magtrabaho. Medyo marami rin ito kaya nagwo-worry ang Hong Kong government kung saan sila ilalagay (In total, around 12,662 OFWs are expected to return to Hong Kong this summer. This is quite a number that’s why the Hong Kong government is apprehensive where to place them),” he said in a televised Laging Handa briefing.

Hong Kong implements strict entry protocols for those returning from abroad. Foreigners and locals are subject to mandatory testing and are required to undergo a 14-day facility quarantine.

Tejada said recruitment agencies and employers are responsible for ensuring the health and accommodation of returning OFWs undergoing quarantine.

“Kami naman po in-assure ng agencies na ang kanilang mga employers ay mananagot sa kanilang kapakanan at tutupad sa kanilang responsibilidad (We were assured by the agencies that the employers will take responsibility of the returning Filipino workers’ welfare),” he said.

Tejada noted that Hong Kong’s response against Covid-19 had been effective, owing to the preventive measures it implemented when the virus epicenter was still in mainland China.

As early as January 2020, public establishments were closed down and large gatherings were barred. In addition, the positive cases were immediately isolated as authorities conducted intensive contact tracing on those who had contact with the infected.

“Dito po sa Hong Kong nagiging normal na ang kalakaran ng buhay, nag-flatten na po ang curve dito at actually zero local transmission na kami dito (Here in Hong Kong, life is slowly returning to normal, the curve has flattened and we now actually have zero transmission here),” he said.

Meanwhile, over 200 displaced Filipinos remain stranded in the region and are awaiting repatriation to the Philippines.

Tejada said the Philippine Consulate General in Hong Kong is coordinating with the Department of Foreign Affairs to secure flights for these workers within the week or next week.

‘No effect’

As pre-pandemic routines slowly return, Tejada noted that some protests are likewise coming back on the streets of Hong Kong.

“Sa pagbalik ng normal na buhay dito, nagkakaroon na naman po ng mga protests (As normalcy returns, the protests are also coming back),” he said.

Last month, thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators rallied against Beijing’s proposed national security law for the semi-autonomous city.

Tejada said the law has no effect on Filipino workers living there as it focuses on the “independence movement seeking for Hong Kong’s separation from China”.

“Wala po itong gaanong epekto sa atin dito sapagkat tayo ay mga nagtatrabaho lamang dito, tayo ay mapayapang nakikisalamuha sa komunidad ng Hong Kong, wala po tayong dapat ikabahala diyan sa sitwasyon na ‘yan (This has no effect on us because we are merely working here. Since we interact peacefully with the community in Hong Kong, we have nothing to worry about),” he said. (PNA)