21 May 2021
For Reference: Dolores Balladares Pelaez
Tel No. 97472986
Chairperson, United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL-Migrante-HK)
“When 58 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) requested assistance from the Philippine Overseas Labour Office (POLO) and Overseas Welfare Workers Association (OWWA) in Hong Kong during the first quarter of 2021, instead of receiving help, they were turned away. The inaction of the POLO and OWWA on the grievances of our fellow migrants was met by a picket last April 25, 2021 to denounce the slow and incompetent response of OWWA on this humanitarian crisis, and of POLO on the illegal collection cases filed by the OFWs” narrated Dolores Balladares Pelaez, chairperson of the United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL-HK).
The actions against the POLO were seen as a slight by Versie Tamayao, Welfare Officer of the Overseas Workers Welfare Assistance (OWWA) HK. According to Pelaez, UNIFIL requested an audience with Ms. Tamayao but she failed to show up, and instead sent one of her staff. Being a staff with no authority to decide, the resolution regarding the urgent issues raised were again shelved.
“We requested to have a meeting with Ms. Tamayao so they can address the concerns raised by the distressed OFWs,” said Pelaez. “The OFWs requested for shelter and assistance for plane tickets from her office, but instead were given meals good enough for one day.”
According to Pelaez, a POLO employee told one OFW “to wait for a submarine” when the worker asked for assistance to return to the Philippines. “We do not deserve this maltreatment from OWWA. The funds of the OWWA are from the OFWs, and their mandate is to serve and assist OFWs, especially during times of crisis.”
“We demand that this be rectified! We demand that POLO/OWWA provide ample assistance to stranded OFWs, whether pay for their air ticket home or pay for the accommodation of OFWs stuck here. Definitely, because of the pandemic, more and more OFWs will be stranded and the government must help them indiscriminately, since they have been boasting about assisting OFWs,” opined Balladares.
“We vow to come back and do more protests until assistance shall be given to the stranded OFWs,” ended Pelaez. ###