OFWs affected by Hong Kong travel ban may not be as many as you think

Published April 19, 2021, 7:09 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

The Hong Kong government’s two-week ban on the entry of individuals coming from the Philippines will affect the deployment of an estimated 1,300 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), mostly household service workers (HSW).

Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) Administrator Bernard Olalia came up with this figure during the virtual news forum organized by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Monday, April 19.

(Photo screengrab from DOLE Facebook page)

Olalia said the country’s total deployment to Hong Kong–considered a major market for OFWs–stood at only 2,600 a month last year, when the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) first emerged.

Half of the monthly figure–which would account for two weeks–is 1,300, he noted.
“Malaking bahagi ng ating deployment sa Hong Kong, tulad ng pagpunta ng ating mga kababayan sa Middle East, malaking bahagi dito ay mga domestic workers (A huge part of our deployment to Hong Kong, same with the Middle East, is made up of domestic workers),” Olalia said.

It was earlier reported Monday that Hong Kong–a Chinese territory–had banned for two weeks the entry of people coming from the Philippines, India, and Pakistan. This, after the Hong Kong government confirmed a second local COVID-19 case involving a mutated strain of the virus.

Hong Kong is traditionally a major market for OFWs. Olalia said it is the fourth biggest destination for jobseeking Filipinos next to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Singapore.

“Maraming OFWs are lumilipad patungong Hong Kong para magtrabaho (A lot of OFWs fly to Hong Kong in order to work),” he said.

The POEA boss said OFW deployment to Hong Kong reached 160,000 annually (roughly 13,000 a month) prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But last year, the deployment to the Chinese special administrative region fell by whopping 80 percent or to just 32,000 OFWs, Olalia said.

He said the processing of papers of Hong Kong-bound OFWs would continue throughout the two-week travel ban. This would allow them to leave the Philippines once the prohibition is lifted.