DOLE 'monitoring' Pinoys' situation in HK after mandatory vaccination order

Published May 3, 2021, 7:43 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) says it is closely monitoring the situation in Hong Kong following its government’s decision to make coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccinations mandatory among the hundreds of thousands of foreign workers there.

Hong Kong (Photo by Elton Yung/ Unsplash)

“Mino-monitor po ng Department of Labor [and Employment] yung pagpapatupad ng bagong patakaran na mandatory vaccinations sa Hong Kong (DOLE is now monitoring the implementation of the new rule on mandatory vaccinations sa Hong Kong),” the agency’s Information and Publication Service (IPS) Director Rolly Francia said in a virtual press briefing on Monday, May 3.

“At batay po sa kung anong mangyayari diyan ay gagawa po ng hakbang ang kalihim na si Silvestre Bello [III] upang tugunan ang anumang magiging epekto nito sa ating kababayang mga OFWs sa Hong Kong (And based on whatever happens there, Secretary Silvestre Bello III will make steps to respond to the effects of the rule on our overseas Filipino workers in Hong Kong),” he said.

But Francia also said at one point during the briefing that Bello may come up with a comment on Tuesday, May 4, if developments call for it.

The government of Hong Kong–a Chinese-controlled territory–is being accused of “discrimination” for singling out Filipino domestic workers or household service workers (HSW) in its “must-be-inoculated” rule.

Reports said that the foreign workers in Hong Kong must take anti-COVID jabs, or else their contracts won’t be renewed. As for incoming workers, they must be inoculated from the disease to be granted entry.

Preceeding the push for mandatory vaccinations was a mass mandatory testing of the domestic workers, which were dominated by Filipinos.

Hong Kong is the fourth biggest destination for OFWs next only to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Singapore.

In pre-pandemic years, OFW deployment to Hong Kong reached 160,000 annually (roughly 13,000 a month).

But Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) Administrator Bernard Olalia said the deployment to the Chinese special administrative region fell by whopping 80 percent last year, or down to just 32,000 OFWs for the whole of 2020.

Deployment of Filipino workers to Hong Kong this year is pegged at 2,600 a month.