Malacañang on Tuesday said the government was still studying a possible ban on the deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to Hong Kong, in light of political unrest in China’s Special Administrative Region.
The statement came after Hong Kong authorities arrested a Filipino who happened to pass by protesters while wearing a black shirt, which was associated with the resistance movement calling for pro-democratic reforms.
Speaking to reporters, Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo said Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello 3rd was closely monitoring and evaluating the situation in Hong Kong to determine if a temporary ban on labor deployment was warranted.
“Sabi ni Secretary Bello mino-monitor nila. Ang protocol nila ngayon (Secretary Bello said he was monitoring it. Their protocol for now) is they are asking the Filipinos there to avoid there those places, kung saan merong (where there are) protests, marches, para hindi sila madamay. Eh may nadamay na ngang isa (so that they will not be involved. There’s already one who got involved),” Panelo told reporters.
“Wala naman, walang deployment ban. Pinag-aaralan niya raw, ‘yan ang sabi niya (There’s no deployment ban for now. He’s still studying it, that’s what he [Bello] said),” he added.
There are more than 400,000 documented Filipino workers in Hong Kong, according to the Labor department.
The Department of Foreign Affairs earlier issued alert levels to evaluate threats in certain locations.
The Hong Kong protests have been ongoing for five straight days and nine consecutive weeks since the government shelved a controversial bill that would have allowed extraditing Hong Kong fugitives to China.
This, however, spurred more violent demonstrations, calling out the autonomous region’s “dysfunctional” government.
The Philippine consulate in Hong Kong shuttered its operations on Monday afternoon as the strike hobbled the city.
An advisory from the consulate said all passport appointments and other transactions scheduled for Monday would be accommodated any time during business hours on Tuesday and in the following days.