Just a day after OFWs and Filipino migrants expressed their demand to the Duterte government for the ban to be lifted, the Department of Foreign Affairs through Undersecretary Brigido Dulay made an announcement that stranded Filipino migrants may now return to Hong Kong and Macau. While this unofficial announcement may be a cause for excitement for many stranded migrants – returning OFWs, permanent residents and students – who are eager to resume their work and get reunited with their families, Migrante International is asking the government to issue its official statement with clarification on what it meant by “certain procedural formalities” to avoid confusion and added burden to returning and newly deployed migrant workers and residents to Hong Kong and Macau.
We warn the Duterte government that returning OFWs and migrants should never be required to sign waivers nor provide medical certificates or undergo any other additional process that will prolong their stay just to comply with these so-called “certain procedural formalities” mentioned by Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Dulay.
The government should not impose additional burdens on stranded migrants. OFWs deserve to obtain clearer information and details from the government regarding the travel ban exemption and migrants should not be obligated by any means to surrender their right to demand and receive government assistance. Migrante International will remain vigilant on how the Duterte government responds to the COVID-19 public health issue.