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Donít forget HK Filipinos, govít asked

First Posted 07:18:00 09/04/2010

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MANILA, Philippines?A Hong Kong-based ecumenical mission aiding distressed migrant workers has called on the government to take seriously reports of termination and mistreatment of Filipino workers in the Chinese territory stemming from the Aug. 23 bloody hostage crisis.

?While panic and paranoia should be avoided, brushing aside reported cases of termination or ill-treatment of OFWs will not also help but instead will create the thinking that such is an ?acceptable collateral damage? of the tragedy,? said Cynthia Abdon-Tellez, director of the Mission for Migrant Workers (MFMW), in a statement.

?Their (the Philippine government?s) complacency already contributed to the tragedy. They should not repeat the same mistake and just wait until the problems pile up,? she said.

The MFMW deplored the ?false assurances? of Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) secretary general Ernesto Herrera.

Herrera reportedly said that the reports of termination were being blown out of proportion and that so long as the services of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), especially domestic helpers, were needed by employers, Filipinos will have jobs in Hong Kong.

?For a supposed labor leader, such a statement could be construed as uncaring for even the few workers who lost their jobs or experienced harassment. We strongly advise the former senator and his group the TUCP to look into the reality of the Filipino domestic workers before issuing false assurances that appear to say that it is all right for OFWs to receive such treatment because their job security is not really threatened,? Tellez said.

Tellez observed that the government has a tendency to ?sweep under the rug? reports of adverse impacts of the hostage-taking tragedy on the OFWs in Hong Kong who who have been bearing the brunt of Hong Kong people?s anger over the Manila hostage tragedy.

?Even one single termination should be a concern of the Philippine government for it means the livelihood of a family and it will show if the government is really sincere in its promise of protection and services to overseas Filipino workers,? said Tellez.

The MFMW, founded in 1981, is based at the St. John?s Cathedral in Hong Kong?s Central District.

Tellez said the MFMW has indeed received calls from OFWs complaining of contracts being terminated or changes in the way they were being treated because of the dismay and anger that Hong Kong employers felt over the botched hostage rescue in Manila in which eight Hong Kong residents were killed by a dismissed policeman.

Aside from two job terminations, the MFMW has also received reports of threats and verbal abuse heaped on a number of OFWs, Tellez said.

There was even one case of a Filipino woman being spat on in a bus and three who were verbally abused in a Hong Kong restaurant, she said.

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