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Manila welcomes HK court ruling on Filipino maid Evangeline Banao Vallejos

/ 02:24 AM October 01, 2011

The Philippines welcomed a Hong Kong court decision upholding the right of a Filipino domestic worker to settle permanently in that Chinese territory.

“It is a step forward in recognizing the rights of migrants,” Vice President Jejomar Binay, who is also the presidential adviser on overseas workers, said in a statement.

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“Overseas Filipino workers have contributed to the economies of their host countries and the decision recognizes their contributions.”

Binay said the ruling favoring Filipino maid Evangeline Banao Vallejos could lead to other domestic workers in Hong Kong gaining the right to apply for permanent residency.

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“The Philippine government welcomes any development that promotes respect for and of the rights and well-being of Philippine nationals abroad,” Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesperson Raul Hernandez said.

But Hernandez added: “As judicial proceedings are underway on two other right of abode cases in Hong Kong, we will withhold further comments in deference to the courts adjudicating the said cases.”

Just one battle won

Activist group Migrante International said the decision would boost the status of Filipino domestic helpers.

“The ruling gives them equality. Domestic helpers are not really seen as equals in countries where they work,” said Garry Martinez, chair of Migrante.   “The important thing is that their rights are being recognized after so many years of working.”

Migrant workers groups in Hong Kong hailed the court ruling.

“We hope that the decades-long injustice shall immediately be corrected. The court’s ruling has affirmed the stand of FDW (foreign domestic workers) groups that discrimination indeed exists in Hong Kong,” the Asian Migrants’ Coordinating Body (AMCB) said in a statement.

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Dolores Balladares, also an AMCB spokesperson, said the right of abode decision was just one battle won.

“There still exist the new conditions of stay, the exclusion from the statutory minimum wage, the mandatory live-in employment arrangement and a host of other policies that show that FDWs are treated not the same as all the other foreign workers in Hong Kong,” she said.

About nine million Filipinos—10 percent of the population—work abroad, earning more money in a wide range of skilled and unskilled sectors than they could in their homeland. Reports from Nancy C. Carvajal, Jerome Aning and AFP

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TAGS: Domestic Helpers, Filipino maid Evangeline Banao Vallejos, Hong Kong, Overseas Filipino workers, permanent residency application, Vice President Jejomar Binay
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