Don’t single out OFWs, Palace urges Hong Kong

Don’t single out OFWs, Palace urges Hong Kong

MANILA – While it recognizes Hong Kong’s sovereign prerogative to push for mandatory Covid-19 vaccination of foreign domestic workers, Malacañang on Monday said Filipino domestic workers should not be singled out.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque echoed the remarks made by Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. and Philippine Consul General to Hong Kong Raly Tejada urging Hong Kong not to force foreign workers to get vaccinated.

“We go with the statement of Secretary Locsin of course… sana po huwag i-single out ang ating mga Filipino OFWs, bagama’t we recognize iyong sovereign prerogative na i-require ang bakuna (I hope they do not single out OFWs, although we recognize the sovereign prerogative to require vaccination),” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a Palace press briefing.

Roque acknowledged Hong Kong’s police power to implement compulsory Covid-19 vaccination, but noted that “it must be done in a manner that all people will be covered.”

“Ang (The) exercise ng police power, it must be done in a manner na lahat po ng tao eh sasakupin. Huwag naman pong magkakaroon ng singling out (that all people will be covered. There should be no singling out),” he added.

In a recent tweet, Locsin said Hong Kong’s Covid-19 vaccination requirement “smacks of discrimination and if it is a special favor, it is unfair to other nationalities.”

Tejada, for his part, said concerned consulates should have been consulted as it involves the substantive rights of their nations.

Hong Kong earlier announced the mandatory Covid-19 testing for foreign domestic helpers by May 9, 2021.

Mandatory Covid-19 vaccination will also be required for all workers before their contracts could be renewed, and any incoming worker would be required to have the vaccination to enter Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, Roque reassured overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in India who want to go home that they will be repatriated when commercial flights resume.

“Mananaig pa rin iyong puso ng ating Presidente para sa ating mga OFWs at nakikita ko po baka nga po makakauwi na iyong ilang mga Pilipinong gustong makauwi pero subject to stricter quarantine dito sa Pilipinas including full 14-day quarantine regardless of their PCR [polymerase chain reaction] results (Our President’s heart will still prevail for our OFWs and I see that some Filipinos who want to go home but are subject to stricter quarantine here in the Philippines including full 14-day quarantine regardless of their PCR results),” he said.

In the meantime, he urged them to observe minimum health and safety standards and get vaccinated in their host countries.

“Iniengganyo po natin ang ating mga OFWs na magpabakuna rin po kung nasaan man sila kasi ang alam ko po ang pagbabakuna naman ay sinasakop ang lahat ‘no (We encourage our OFWs to get vaccinated wherever they are because I know that vaccination covers everyone). We are not safe until everyone is safe ‘no, ‘yan po ang motto sa buong daigdig (that’s the motto of the entire world),” he said.

He said consular offices in their host countries are ready to provide necessary assistance to OFWs who may get infected with Covid-19.

The Philippines barred entry of travelers from India or with travel history to India in the last 14 days until May 14 to prevent the transmission of a “double mutant” coronavirus strain.

Roque said the government is studying whether to expand or not the travel ban to other countries with high passenger traffic from India.

“We can never say if what happened to India will not happen [here]. Kaya nga po tayo ay nagta-travel ban ngayon. Pero ang warning nga po ng WHO, kinakailangan ding isama rin sa travel ban iyong mga lugar kung saan mataas ang traffic involving passengers from India, at kasama po diyan iyong Middle East (That’s why we imposed a travel ban at present). But WHO warned that the travel ban must include places with high traffic involving passengers from India, including the Middle East),” he said.

As of Monday, India reported more than 300,000 new Covid-19 cases for a 12th straight day bringing its overall tally to just shy of 20 million. Azer Parrocha / PNA –