Two years ago, lawyers of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Davao Chapter went on a legal mission to HongKong with IBP chapters from other cities to assist overseas Filipino workers there, estimated by the Department of Foreign Affairs to number about 196,000. During that mission, lawyers estimated that about 50 percent of our OFWs need legal advice and services.
Most of those who sought legal assistance and advice were burdened by family and marriage woes, financial scams, non-payment of contract wages, difficult working conditions and even psychological torture.
We are wondering how our HongKong OFWs are faring with the recent political disturbance. Yesterday, the Department of Labor and Employment has issued a statement warning them to “stay cautious and vigilant in the face of escalating protests and public disruptions in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.”
Although the Philippine Consulate General in Hong Kong has issued advisories on where the protest areas in the next days, more important is the possibility of our workers being sent on unpaid leave due to the economic downturn. Tourism and business activities are not faring well, and fears are rife that this will further contract in the next months if the political crisis escalates.
What will happen to our OFWs? Will they still be able to congregate on Sundays at the parks close to the Central Station or under the HSBC near the Catholic Church? Can they still put up their boxes and fashion their own little space in that small makeshift room, catch up on sleep, or meet friends, eat Filipino food and do what they can to keep their sanity as they move on to another week of work?
We hope the Consulate General is prepared to assist our OFW in case of any eventuality in the HongKong political crisis.
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