MANILA – (UPDATE) The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) sees no need to evacuate Filipinos in Hong Kong at this time even as protests in the city were growing violent.
“The DFA wishes to assure everyone that (contrary to some false reports circulating in social media) Filipinos in Hong Kong remain safe and are largely unaffected by the ongoing protests in the area,” the DFA said in a statement.
It said the Philippine Consulate General in Hong Kong is closely monitoring the situation. It is likewise taking steps to ensure the continued safety and well-being of Filipinos there.
“Meantime, those wishing to follow the impact of developments in Hong Kong on our nationals there are advised to visit the Consulate’s website for updates and advisories, instead of turning to questionable sources of information in social media,” the DFA said.
Some 230,000 Filipinos, mostly domestic workers, live and work in Hong Kong.
A group of household service workers, however, expressed concern the Filipinos may be laid off by their employers.
"Expatriates, mostly American and European who work in the financial district, have begun to leave due to the unstable working conditions and the floundering economy," according to recruitment consultant and migration expert Emmanuel Geslani.
"Though the Philippine consulate has assured families of OFWs working in Hong Kong that there are no large-scale terminations for the domestic helpers, there is no assurance that the situation will not get any better by year’s end," he added.
The violent protests have also discouraged Filipino domestic helpers from enjoying their weekends off outside, according Alfredo Palmiery, president of the Society of Hong Kong Accredited Recruiters of the Philippines.
Protests have swept Hong Kong since June as many in the city of 7.5 million people have vented fury at eroding freedoms under Chinese rule.
Late Friday, firefighters were called to quell flames from a car set ablaze near the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
The fire was set in defiance of a warning by Chinese President Xi Jinping, who on Thursday backed Hong Kong's leader Carrie Lam while warning the protest movement was threatening the "one country, two systems" principle governing the semi-autonomous city.
Xi said "stopping violence and controlling chaos" was the top priority. -- With a report from Agence France-Presse