Press Statement, 18 February 2022
MIGRANTE International received reports of several OFWs in Hong Kong who were tested positive of COVID- Omicron were terminated, abandoned and forced to stay in an open area inside a park under cold weather conditions. Some of the OFWs were forced to terminate their working contract due to unsuitable accommodation at her employer’s house but later found positive of Covid 19 and she had no immediate place to go since they were advised to stay home by the HK health authorities since they were found to be asymptomatic.
OFWs that face sudden loss of jobs normally rely on the assistance of non-government institutions due to the lack of welfare services by the Philippine government representatives in HK. This situation is even more aggravated with the miserable state of COVID-positive migrant workers who have no access to NGOs or individuals for assistance.
Clearly, government neglect is the trademark of the Philippine government whose one of the main sources of revenues is the mandatory collections of fees imposed by the PH government under its Labor Export Program. This Labor Export Program or LEP was originally institutionalized by the former dictator President Marcos in 1987. Overseas Filipino workers have endured maltreatment, injustices, even death since its creation. It is quite ironic that OFWs are often lauded as “bagong bayani” but they are deprived of the needed protection and assistance that they deserve especially during these critical times.
Such was the case of Flor Contemplacion who was wrongfully hanged in Singapore in 1995 because of the abandonment of her case. In order to recover its image, the Ramos administration hastily passed the Migrant Workers Act which was later amended yet this was good only in paper because OFWs abandoned and neglected. The death of Flor Contemplacion that symbolized the sufferings of millions of our OFWs will be remembered on March 17.
Likewise, the issue of the Saudi claimants is another concrete case. For almost five years they have been desperately awaiting the promised ayuda from the Duterte administration. The same is true with stranded workers who were promised financial assistance because of the entry ban to Hong Kong since the COVID pandemic struck.
Migrante International is calling on the Philippine Consulate General to make immediate arrangements with the Hong Kong government to set up a free isolation center for COVID-19 positive Filipino migrant workers. We also demand the PH government for an immediate cash relief to OFWs who were terminated and affected by the pandemic in Hong Kong and other countries.
Lastly, we are calling the attention of 2022 presidential and senatorial aspirants to include the OFWs in their electoral agenda and take positive and genuine action for the protection of their rights and welfare including their families. ###