Dole mulling temporary ban on deployment of PH workers to HK
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) is considering imposing a temporary ban on labor deployment to Hong Kong, where a general strike called by prodemocracy protesters threw the semiautonomous Chinese city into chaos on Monday.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the government was closely monitoring and evaluating the situation in the global financial hub to determine if a temporary ban on labor deployment was warranted.
“It is being studied. Within the week probably we will find out some developments,” Bello said.
Thirteen flights between Manila and Hong Kong were canceled on Monday as aviation workers in the semiautonomous Chinese city joined the strike.
Philippine Airlines canceled four flights on Monday while Cebu Pacific scrapped two.
Hong Kong airline Cathay Pacific canceled seven flights to Manila for Monday and two more for Tuesday.
Passengers on the canceled services were advised to rebook their flights or ask for refunds, with fees waived.
The Philippine consulate in Hong Kong shuttered its operations on Monday afternoon as the strike hobbled the city.
An advisory from the consulate said all passport appointments and other transactions scheduled for Monday would be accommodated any time during business hours on Tuesday and in the following days.
Avoid protest venues
The consulate is located in Admiralty district, site of the Hong Kong central government complex, where protesters demanding democratic reforms and riot police backed by thugs from the mainland often clash.
On Sunday afternoon, the consulate issued an advisory telling Filipino workers and tourists in Hong Kong to avoid protest venues.
The consulate also warned Filipinos not to wear black or white upper garments “for your safety,” meaning to avoid being mistaken for government supporters or antigovernment protesters.
Bello also reiterated an earlier call to Filipino workers in Hong Kong to stay away from protest venues.
According to Philippine Overseas Employment Administration data, at least 116,000 Filipinos are working in Hong Kong.
Over the weekend, a Filipino was arrested in Mong Kok district after being mistaken for a protester.
Bello said the Filipino was not a protester but just happened to have worn a black shirt when he went out.
He said lawyers had already been provided to the Filipino worker.
The general strike moved forward on Monday following a weekend of clashes between protesters and riot police on the streets.
The protests are part of a summer of fiery demonstrations that began in June against a proposed extradition law that would have allowed residents to be sent to mainland China to stand trial.
A rally of nearly 1 million in June prompted Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam to suspend hearings on the bill.
While Lam said last month that the bill was already “dead,” her government refused to accede to the protesters’ demand that it be formally withdrawn.
Protesters have since demanded wider democratic reforms, including the resignation of pro-China Lam. —With reports from Jerome Aning, Dexter Cabalza and AP
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