MANILA – Some 1,300 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) would be affected by Hong Kong’s two-week ban on flights from the Philippines which takes effect on Tuesday, the Philippines Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) said Monday.
“Since there will be a two-week temporary suspension on the deployment, their border will be closed due to the pandemic. So half of 2,600, more or less 1,300 workers to be affected,” POEA chief Bernard Olalia said in a virtual forum.
He added that most of the affected workers are household service workers (HSWs).
“The biggest bulk of our deployment in Hong Kong just like our fellow Filipinos going to the Middle East, majority of them are domestic workers,” Olalia said.
He, however, assured that the temporary travel ban imposed by the Chinese semi-autonomous region will not stop them from continuously processing the documents of applicants.
“Even if there is temporary closure or temporary suspension of flights to destination countries, our POLO (Philippine Overseas Labor Office), our POEA will continue to process deployment documents. It means that the verification being done by POLO will continue. The accreditation of POEA will also continue,” he said.
At the same time, Olalia reported that prior to the pandemic the country is sending 13,000 OFWs to Hong Kong every month and more or less 168,000 annually.
“On the average, we can say some 13,000 OFWs are being deployed every month. This is before the pandemic, in 2019 and prior years. But last year, the deployment dropped by almost 80 percent, only 32,000 deployments, and only 2,600 plus monthly,” he added.
Olalia said Hong Kong is the fourth top destination for OFWs, next to Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Singapore.
Reports said Hong Kong will ban flights from the Philippines, India, and Pakistan for 14 days starting April 20.
These countries were classified as “extremely high risk” due to multiple imported cases, including the highly transmissible “N501Y” coronavirus variant. Ferdinand Patinio / PNA – northboundasia.com