Palace urges HK not to single out OFWs in compulsory COVID-19 vaccination

Published May 3, 2021, 2:34 PM

by Argyll Cyrus Geducos

Malacañang asked the government of Hong Kong to not single out overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in its plan to make the vaccination against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) mandatory.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque (OPS / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after Hong Kong announced plans to require all 370,000 domestic workers to get vaccinated as a requirement for the renewal of their work contracts.

In his press briefing on Monday, Roque said the Palace recognizes Hong Kong’s sovereign prerogative to set employment requirements but hoped that Filipinos will not be discriminated against because of it.

“Sana po wag i-single out ang ating mga OFWs bagama’t we recognize yung sovereign prerogative na i-require ang bakuna (We recognize the sovereign prerogative of Hong Kong to require vaccination but we wish they won’t single out OFWs),” he said.

Roque pointed out that even in the Philippines, vaccination can be required as part of the exercise of the police power of the State, however, he said this should be applied to all.

“We have an early 1905 case na sinustain po ng Korte Suprema ng Pilipinas ang (where in the Supreme Court of the Philippines sustained the) mandatory vaccination against smallpox as a form in part and parcel of police power,” he said.

(Pero pati po ang (But even the) exercise of police power must be done in a manner na lahat po ng tao ay sasakupin. ‘Wag naman po magkaroon ng (that everyone will be covered. We hope that there won’t be) singling out,” he added.

The Palace official likewise said that the Equal Protection Clause is not just a provision of the Philippine Bill of Rights, but is also accepted already in the International Covenant and Civil and Political Rights which also applies to Hong Kong.

Over the weekend, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said there should be “no singling out of any nationality” in Hong Kong’s plan to inoculate around 370,000 foreign domestic workers before their contracts can be renewed.

He added that Hong Kong’s plan to inoculate only domestic workers “smacks of discrimination.”

“It smacks of discrimination even though we’d all like to be treated that way in the Philippines where we lack vaccines,” Locsin tweeted.

“So, since I did [Hong Kong Chief Executive Officer] Carrie Lam the favor to get domestic workers back into Hong Kong, make it mandatory for all foreign workers,” he added.