Wanchai, Hong Kong: Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Hong Kong are worried over the possible sanctions that the former British territory may impose against the Philippines since these may include scrapping the visa-free entry of Filipinos.
Rosemarie Gallardo, 35, said that she and other Filipinos working in Hong Kong could face “difficulties” from their employers if the Philippine government will not be able to settle the dispute over the killing of several Hong Kong tourists during a hostage-taking incident in 2010.
Hong Kong officials are angry because President Benigno Aquino 3rd has refused to apologize for the botched rescue operation.
“Bumababa na ang tingin sa mga Pilipino dito sa Hong Kong. Maraming mabait, pero since nabalita yung Manila incident, nagfa-fire na sila, mababa na tingin nila sa mga Pilipino [They have started to look down on Filipinos. Since the incident, they have started to fire employees],” Gallardo said.
She said that there are instances when their employers blame their Filipino help for wrongdoings that were made up just to have a reason to fire them.
“Sinasabi nila na ang OFW ay bayani ng bagong panahon, pero hindi namin nararamdaman. Kung ganun nga, sana marinig ng gobyerno ang hirap namin dito sa ibang bansa. Magpasa naman ng batas o kahit anong proteksyon para sa mga Pilipino para makalaban ang mga katulong kapag sinasamantala sila dahil alam nilang may kakapitan sila,” Gallardo said.
Gallardo, who had been working in Hong Kong for seven years, said that some employers replaced Filipino workers with Indonesians.
At present, hundreds of Filipino domestic helpers like Gallardo are taken care of in a so-called shelter located at the Central Wanchai area. Filipinos living in the shelter were mostly laid off by their employers amidst the tension between Hong Kong and the Philippines.
“Sana ingatan ng gobyerno ang mga OFW. Napapansin lang kasi nila kami kapag may problemang ganyan, pero hindi naman talaga nila nabibigyan ng solusyon sa problema,” Gallardo said.
Malacañang on Thursday said that the government is prepared to help Filipino workers who could be affected by the possible sanctions, which could be imposed by Hong Kong against the Philippines.
Hong Kong government earlier threatened to impose unspecified economic sanctions if no substantial progress was made within a month in talks related to the 2010 hostage crisis in Manila.
Hong Kong chief executive Leung Chun-ying did not specify what the sanctions might be but some lawmakers had proposed to suspend visa-free access for Filipino visitors to Hong Kong.
Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said that measures to help Filipino workers in Hong Kong are in place.
”Tinitiyak ko po sa inyo at sa lahat ng mamamayan na lahat po ng kinakailangang gawin ay ginagawa ng ating pamahalaan para po sa kapakanan ng mga mamamayan [We assure the people that the government is doing everything it can to protect the welfare of our countrymen],” he said.
”Hindi po natin sila ilalaglag o papabayaan [We will not abandon them],” Coloma added
The Palace official also maintained that the Philippines and Hong Kong are working quietly ”to achieve a mutually satisfactory solution” to the unresolved issue.