3,000 OFWs can't be deployed to Hong Kong until gov't rolls out vax cards

Published August 10, 2021, 1:23 PM

by Roy Mabasa

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Tuesday confirmed that Hong Kong authorities will not honor the vaccination cards issued by the Philippines’ local government units (LGUs) and the Department of Health’s Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ).

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. (DFA)

Locsin’s disclosure will temporarily put on hold the deployment of nearly 3,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) until after the Philippine government rolls out the issuance of vaccination cards to those fully-inoculated, including OFWs.

“Our vaccination cards are not accepted in Hong Kong because they are not connected to a single source. Poor OFWs going to their jobs in Hong Kong even if jabbed,” Locsin said in a tweet.

The Philippine Consulate in Hong Kong earlier said about 3,000 OFWs with pending works in the former Crown Colony have been stranded in the Philippines following the surge in COVID-19 cases in recent months that necessitated the implementation of travel restrictions.

It was reported last week that the Hong Kong government has already lifted the ban provided that returning OFWs can present a “recognized” vaccination card upon arrival in Hong Kong.

The Philippine government is also seeking clarification form Hong Kong authorities on the actual number of quarantine days that a fully vaccinated OFW will have to go through. The Hong Kong International Airport website indicates that an arriving passenger will be subject to a 21-day quarantine period.

Locsin is optimistic that DICT Secretary Gregorio Honasan will “get the job done right” in issuing vaccination certificates to OFWs who were not able to return to their work abroad due to global travel restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“(Secretary) Honasan’s DICT will get the job done right. I know this guy for a long time not in the biblical sense; we fought each other as friends,” the foreign secretary said.

Only less than 50 percent of the more than 220,000 OFWs who are currently in Hong Kong have so far been inoculated.