By Raymund Antonio
A group of 1,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) employed in Hong Kong but stranded in Manila due to the travel ban has asked an international court to appeal to the Philippine government to allow them to return to their jobs.
Interviewed by ABS-CBN News, Hong Kong–based teacher Joms Ortega said their Facebook group called #StrandedPh wrote the International Court of Justice in the Hague about their appeal.
“Basically what we are asking for help is to exempt all the permanent residents and Hong Kong and Macau workers from the ban because a lot of our lives have been affected,” he said.
In their petition to the ICJ, the Filipino workers appealed for “urgent intervention after our government unfairly and unjustifiably violated our right to travel and resume our employment in Hong Kong.”
Hong Kong is one the administrative regions of China covered by the temporary travel ban imposed by the Philippines amid the global spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The other is Macau.
This came following the first death of a patient infected with the new coronavirus in the country. He was a 44-year-old Chinese national from Wuhan, the epicenter of deadly virus. Two other confirmed cases of COVID-19 have also been recorded.
Ortega, one of the signatories of the petition, expressed his willingness to take the risk of going back to Hong Kong despite the threat of the infectious disease.
“We are willing to take the risk to go back because we know we are covered by the health care system in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong government has definitely supported our flight to go back,” he said.
The OFW noted Hong Kong can give them better health care. “We are very confident the Hong Kong government is taking care of OFWs there,” Ortega told ANC.
Among the Filipino workers in Hong Kong are teachers, engineers, entrepreneurs, designers, pilots, flight attendants, journalists, and domestic helpers.
Ortega said there were Filipino domestic workers who already lost their jobs after they were not able to immediately return to Hong Kong.
“Since they are not there, no work, no pay. The others have been terminated,” he said.