Some OFW jobs at risk as Hong Kong protests drag on: community leader

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 21 2019 09:15 AM

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Some Filipinos in Hong Kong risk losing their jobs as their employers plan on leaving the city due to pro-democracy demonstrations that have turned violent, a community leader said Monday.

The United Filipinos in Hong Kong received 3 to 4 reports of companies, not headquartered in the Chinese, who advised their employees that they could leave due to the protests, said the group's secretary general, Emmanuel Villanueva. 

"Ang mga employers nila ay mostly European, hindi talaga mga taga-Hong Kong, therefore meron silang option na bumalik sa kanilang bansa," he told radio DZMM.

(Most of their employers are European and not Hong Kong residents, so they have an option to return to their country.) 

Hong Kong is home to some 230,000 Filipinos, most of whom are domestic workers, who earn a minimum of HK$4,630 (about P30,000) a month and must live with their employers in the city's notoriously small flats. 

A woman holds flowers as she argues with a riot police officer after an anti-government protest in Hong Kong, China, October 20, 2019. Kim Kyung-Hoon, Reuters

In the long run, Filipinos could be laid off from work if the 4-month protests spawn a recession and employers lose their own jobs, said Villanueva. 

"Kasi syempre 'pag nawalan ng trabaho iyong employers, iyong domestic workers nila, wala rin," he said.

(Of course, if employers lose their jobs, domestic workers will, too.) 

The demonstrations were initially sparked by a now-shelved extradition law, but have morphed into calls for greater democracy and police accountability. 

An OFW was temporarily detained in August after authorities mistook him for a protester. Another Filipino earlier this month fainted after inhaling tear gas used to dispel activists. 

Areas where domestic workers rest on Sundays have frequently become battlegrounds for police and millions of protesters.

Violence on both sides has escalated, with police firing live rounds and hardcore protesters wielding petrol bombs and rocks. With a report from Agence France-Presse 

DZMM, October 21, 2019