Many HK OFWs wont' go home for holidays due to travel, quarantine costs

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 20 2021 12:13 AM

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MANILA - Filipino migrant workers in Hong Kong want to go home for the holidays, but they are choosing not to due to the island's strict quarantine policy amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to May Padawan, an OFW in Hong Kong, going home to the Philippines is not a problem. Going back however, is a different story.

"Ang problema pagbalik dito (Hong Kong), 21 days [ang quarantine]," she told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo, adding that her vacation leave is only good for 17 days.

Padawan said employers usually do not cover the high-priced costs of their employees' quarantine.

"Di [nila] kaya bayaran," she said.

Eman Villanueva, chair of Bayan Hong Kong and Macau chapter, confirmed Padawan's dilemma. He said 21-day isolation is required for all travelers from countries Hong Kong deems as high-risk places for COVID-19.

"Unfortunately, ang Pilipinas kasama doon sa mga high-risk ano. Indonesia, Pakistan, India, and in fact, UK, US. 'Yung mga ganiyan na matataas ang infection rate," he said.

Villanueva said many OFWs want to go home but the costs of travel and quarantine are "just too much."

"Because of fewer flights, mahal na ang ticket ngayon as compared before. 'Pag Pasko, magdodoble pa 'yan. Ine-expect namin ang round trip ticket ng Hong Kong-Manila-Hong Kong would be more than 5,000 HK dollars by that time," he said.

"And then 'yung quarantine, yung sinasabi nga ni May. Around 15,000 HK dollars 'yun, which is around $2,000, 'yung babayaran sa hotel. So 'yung mga employers, ayaw nila sagutin 'yan," Villanueva explained.

Padawan, whose interaction with her family during the holidays will be likely limited to online or virtual conferencing, said she's used to it already.

"Sa family, okay naman po sa chat," she said.

Villanueva called on the Philippine government to ease the burden of Filipino migrant workers by giving aid to their families.

"Sana pagaanin by providing support sa mga families ng OFWs," he said.

Padawan echoed his call, saying her family did not financial assistance during the government's distribution of subsidies in the past because she is an OFW.

"We deserve also to have ayuda po."