Gov't urged to let Filipino workers return to Hong Kong

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 17 2020 11:57 AM

Passengers wear face masks as they prepare to board a Hong Kong bound train at Lo Wu MTR station before the closing of the Lo Wu border, following the coronavirus outbreak in Hong Kong, China February 3, 2020. Tyrone Siu, Reuters

MANILA - Filipino migrant workers in Hong Kong who were left stranded in Manila due to the country's travel ban are appealing to the government to let them return to the Chinese financial hub, a former labor official said Monday.

The workers are willing to sign a waiver or undergo health measures issued by government just to return to Hong Kong, according to Susan Ople, a former labor undersecretary and head of non-profit overseas Filipino workers advocate group Blas F. Ople Policy Center.

"Gusto lang po nila 'wag masyadong patagalin kasi 'yung iba sa kanila they consider Hong Kong as their home," she told radio DZMM.

(They just want this to be over soon because some of them consider Hong Kong as their home.)

"Ang panawagan mo namin talaga ay isama na ito sa urgent, priority agenda ng task force."

(We call on the task force to put this in its urgent, priority agenda.)

Ople said among concerns of the Filipino workers and residents in Hong Kong are the number of leaves they had already taken, monthly medical check-ups, and their ongoing rental pay in the Chinese territory.

"Sinasabi po nila na kabisado nila ang healthcare system sa Hong Kong, covered ang health insurance and libre 'yung pagpapagamot," she said. "I hope the task force will also listen to them."

(They said they know Hong Kong's healthcare system well. They are covered by health insurance and seeking medical assistance is free.)

The Philippines earlier lifted its travel ban on Taiwan after it implemented strict measures and protocol against the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Manila is also considering lifting its travel ban to Macau, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello said, as it has only reported 10 cases of COVID-19.